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Prince Harry Gives First Speech Since Royal Exit: 'There Was No Other Option'

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Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Sentebale

Harry has finally spoken out about his and Meghan’s choice to step back from the royal family

There’s been plenty of news coverage swirling around Prince Harry and Meghan Markle following their surprise announcement that they would give up their roles as senior members of the royal family in favor of a less public life in Canada. In the agreement struck by the couple, the Queen, and other senior members of the family, it was decided that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would give up their HRH royal titles, repay taxpayer funded money used to renovate their home in the U.K., and no longer receive any public funds from the crown. But what hasn’t been discussed is the heartache and emotion that apparently went into this choice.

Finally, for the first time since the news broke, Harry spoke publicly about the situation, and offered us all a glimpse into the serious consideration that he and Meghan took before deciding to do something so drastic.

Speaking at a London fundraiser for Sentebale, a charity that supports young people with HIV and AIDS in Southern Africa that Harry founded in 2006 in the memory of his late mother, the prince explained some of his and Meghan’s reasoning — and, amid brutal headlines blaming Meghan for the move, used language that made it clear it was his choice, too.

“The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back is not one I made lightly. It was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges,” he said. “And I know I haven’t always gotten it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option.”

He continued, “What I want to make clear is that 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. I’ve accepted this, knowing that it doesn’t change who I am or how committed I am. But I hope that helps you understand what it had come to, that 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 also continued to hint that constant and often racist media coverage of him and his wife factored heavily into the decision.

“When I lost my mum 23 years ago, you took me under your wing,” he told the audience. “You’ve looked out for me for so long, but the media is a powerful force, and my hope is one day our collective support for each other can be more powerful, because this is so much bigger than us.”

From the podium, Harry thanked his longtime friends and supporters for always welcoming Meghan, and assured the audience that she shares his values and they hope to continue to do good in the world in their new roles.

“We both do everything we can to fly the flag and carry out our roles for this country with pride. Once Meghan and I were married, we were excited, we were hopeful, and we were here to serve,” he said. “For those reasons, it brings me great sadness that it has come to this.”

He ended his speech by reiterating his support for the Queen and thanking his supporters once again.

“I will always have the utmost respect for my grandmother, my commander-in-chief, and I am incredibly grateful to her and the rest of my family, for the support they have shown Meghan and I over the last few months,” he said. “I will continue to be the same man who holds his country dear and dedicates his life to supporting the causes, charities, and military communities that are so important to me. Together, you have given me an education about living. And this role has taught me more about what is right and just than I could have ever imagined. We are taking a leap of faith — thank you for giving me the courage to take this next step.”

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