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Prince Harry: Meghan and I had ‘no other option’ but to ‘step back’ for a ‘more peaceful life’

The Daily Beast

January 19, 2020

With Tom Sykes

In an emotional speech, Prince Harry said he and Meghan Markle are not “walking away” from the causes they hold dear.

Prince Harry has made his first comments about his and Meghan Markle’s exit from the royal family on Sunday night, saying it has brought him “great sadness” but that there was “no other option” but to step away from their royal roles.

“I would step my family back from all I have ever known, to take a step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life,” Harry said.

Harry made the comments at a private dinner on Sunday evening, during a seven-minute speech in aid of his Sentebale charity, which supports children affected by HIV in Africa.

A video of the speech was posted on the Sussex Royal Instagram page.

Harry paid a powerful tribute to Meghan, saying “she upholds the same values as I do.” Harry said they were “hopeful” when they got married—“we were here to serve”—but there “really was no other option,” but to give up their working lives within the royal family.

Harry also paid a powerful tribute to the Queen—saying he has the “utmost respect” for “my commander in chief”—and said he had hoped to be able to continue serving and merely forego public funding, but that it was not possible and he “accepted that.”

Harry was speaking the day after Buckingham Palace announced that Harry and Meghan, freshly released from their royal working lives, would no longer use their HRH titles, would receive no public funding, and would also reimburse the British taxpayer $3.1 million for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, their home in Windsor.

The couple will live mostly in North America, and will pay rent on Frogmore, which they will use if and when they live in Britain.

Still unknown is the cost of Meghan and Harry’s security, who will be paying for it, and whether they will continue to use the “Sussex Royal” brand they have built, as they are no longer working royals.

On Sunday, it emerged that Thomas Markle, Meghan’s estranged father, believes that Harry and Meghan are “destroying” and “cheapening” the royal family.

Like the Queen’s statement yesterday, Harry’s underlined a very deliberate outward message of royal family unity, after the tumult of the last few days.

In his Sunday night speech, Harry blamed his big bête noire, the media, saying it was a “powerful source, and my hope is one day our collective support for each other can be more powerful because this is so much bigger than just us.”

He raised a laugh when he said Archie had seen snow for the first time in recent days and thought it was “bloody brilliant.”

Harry also made clear his and Meghan’s commitment to continue the work they hold dear. He revealed that the couple had initially hoped they could continue within their royal roles, but not be publicly funded. They had not been able to do so.

“What I want to make clear is we’re not walking away, and we certainly aren’t walking away from you. Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible.”

Harry described their move into the unknown as “a leap of faith.”