Prince Harry broke his silence Sunday on Megxit, saying he had “no other option” but to step back from his royal duties, according to a report.
“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,” the 35-year-old prince said at a charity event in London.
“And I know I haven’t always gotten it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option,” said Harry, addressing for the first time his and wife Meghan Markle‘s plans to split from the royal family and give up their royal titles.
During the event for his Sentebale charity at the Ivy Chelsea Club, Harry alluded that scrutiny from the media was a factor in he and Markle’s decision.
“When I lost my mum 23 years ago, you took me under your wing,” he told the audience, referring to Princess Diana, who died in 1997 after a car she was in crashed while being chased by paparazzi.
“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 just us.”
Under a Megxit deal announced by Queen Elizabeth II on Saturday, the couple will not represent the monarch as working members of the royal family and will no longer receive taxpayer cash.
Harry said he’d hoped to “continue serving the Queen, the commonwealth, and my military associations,” but that without public funding, “unfortunately, that was not possible.”
“I’ve accepted this, knowing that it doesn’t change who I am or how committed I am,” he said.
“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.”
Despite announcing plans to live part-time in North America, Harry professed his love for his country, saying: “The UK is my home and a place that I love. That will never change.”
He and Markle, 38, “both do everything we can to fly the flag and carry out our roles for this country with pride,” the prince insisted.
“Once Meghan and I were married, we were excited, we were hopeful, and we were here to serve,” Harry said. “For those reasons, it brings me great sadness that it has come to this.
“What I want to make clear is we’re not walking away, and we certainly aren’t walking away from you,” he added.
The Duke of Sussex said falling in love with Markle gave him “the love and happiness that I had hoped for all my life.”
Harry thanked his supporters for welcoming Markle “with open arms,” joking: “finally, the second son of Diana got hitched, hurray!
He also said it was a privilege to feel their excitement for he and Markle’s baby boy Archie, “who saw snow for the first time the other day and though it was bloody brilliant!”
The couple will “continue to lead a life of service,” Harry 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,” he said.
Harry co-founded Sentebale — which supports young people with HIV in southern Africa — in 2006 in honor of his mother.
His full speech was posted to he and Markle’s official “Sussex Royal” Instagram account after the event ended Sunday night.
Harry closed his remarks on Megxit by saying he will always have the “utmost respect” for his grandmother, the queen.
“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,” Harry said.
“We are taking a leap of faith,” he said. “Thank you for giving me the courage to take this next step.”