AceShowbiz - Prince Harry has broken his silence on his and Meghan Markle's royal exit. In his speech at a dinner for supporters of the Sentebale charity in London on Sunday, January 19, the son of Prince Charles and the late Lady Diana addressed their decision to step down as senior members of the British royal family.
"Before I begin, I must say that I can only imagine what you may have heard, or perhaps read, over the past few weeks," he began as he took the podium at the charity event. "So, I want you to hear the truth from me -- as much as I can share, not as a prince or a duke, but as Harry, the same person that many of you have watched grow up over the past 35 years, but now with a clearer perspective."
Thanking the public for their continuous support, he said, "The U.K. is my home and a place that I love. That will never change. I have grown up feeling supported by so many of you, and I watched as you welcomed Meghan with open arms, as you saw the love and happiness that I had hoped for all my life. Finally, the second son of Diana got hitched, hooray!"
Claiming that "the decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back is not one I made lightly," the prince added, "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. What I want to make clear is, we're not walking away, and we certainly aren't walking away from you."
Harry went on suggesting that he and Meghan didn't actually intend to step away from royal life together, but just wanted to cut out the public funding part. "Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn't possible," he explained.
He continued, "I've accepted this knowing it doesn't change who I am or how committed I am, but I hope it 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."
The 35-year-old went on thanking the public for taking "me under your wing" when he lost his mother 23 years ago. "What I want to make clear is we're not walking away, and we certainly aren't walking away from you...," he stressed. "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."
Harry's speech came after Queen Elizabeth II announced that Harry and Meghan will quit using their "royal highness" titles, and be known as Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, as part of the official agreement that will take effect in the "spring of 2020." They also plan to pay back the $3.12 million of taxpayer funds used to recently refurbish their Frogmore Cottage property, which they will continue to use as their U.K. base.