Following the news that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will step back from their royal duties and give up their His/Her Royal Highness titles, the Duke of Sussex has spoken out in a heartfelt speech at a dinner for Sentebale, the HIV/AIDS charity organization he co-founded with Lesotho's Prince Seeiso in 2006.
Prince Harry opened the speech thanking those U.K. citizens who have supported him, especially in the wake of his mother Princess Diana’s death in 1997. He added how happy he was to have so many show support for his relationship and subsequent marriage to Meghan, whom he said he chose to marry as she “upholds the same values” that he does. However, he now feels there is no other way to live a “peaceful life” than to step back from his royal duties.
“The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back, is not one I made lightly,” Prince Harry said in the speech. “It was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges. And I know I haven’t always gotten it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option.”
Though the Duke did not specify the reasons for stepping back, he did say that “the media is a powerful force,” echoing the statement he made when he and Meghan chose to sue British tabloids over their “relentless propaganda” against her.
Prince Harry added that he has the “utmost respect” for his grandmother, and that he is “incredibly grateful” to his family for the support during this time.
“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,” he stated.
Prince Harry and Meghan will reportedly split their time between the United Kingdom and North America, and no longer receive public funds. They will continue with their private patronages, per a statement from the Queen, but can now pursue work outside of their royal duties. Meghan, who starred on the drama Suits prior to marrying Prince Harry, is getting back into entertainment, having just signed a voice acting contract with Disney.
“Together, you have given me an education about living,” Prince Harry concluded. “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.”
Whatever is really next for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is still to be determined, but one thing is clear: They are rewriting the royal rules in a way that serves their family best.