“Before I begin, I must say that I can only imagine what you may have heard or perhaps read of the past few weeks,” he says in a video clip of his speech posted to the official Instagram account for him and his wife Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
The 35-year-old prince is referring to their decision to no longer be working members of the Royal Family and to no longer use their royal titles — news that sparked headlines and analysis around the world.
A statement Saturday from Buckingham Palace confirmed the couple will be required to “step back from Royal duties, including official military appointments,” and will no longer receive public funds for royal duties.
“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much-loved members of my family,” the Queen said in the statement. “I recognize the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life.”
In a statement last week, the Queen had said that Harry and Meghan will be splitting their time between the U.K. and Canada, after they had announced they were stepping down from their duties as official senior members of the Royal Family.
The almost eight-minute-long video clip posted on Sunday shows Harry standing at a podium, at a dinner for supporters of Sentebale in London, U.K. Sentebale is a charity he co-founded in 2006.
“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 prince says. “The same person that many of you have watched grow up over the last 35 years. But now with a clearer perspective.”
Harry goes on to say that he loves the United Kingdom: “The U.K. is my home and a place that I love. That will never change.”
“I’ve grown up feeling supported from so many of you and I watched as you welcomed Meghan with open arms, as you saw me find the love and happiness that I’d hoped for all my life.”
He manages to make the audience laugh: “Finally, the second son of Diana got hitched. Hurray.”
“I also know that you’ve come to know me well enough over all these years to trust that the woman I chose as my wife upholds the same values as I do,” Harry says. “And she does. And she’s the same woman I fell in love with. We both do everything we can to fly the flag and carry out our roles for this country with pride.”
Harry says both he and Markle were “excited” once they got married back in May 2018.
“We were hopeful and we were here to serve,” he says. “For those reasons, it brings me great sadness that it has come to this.”
He says the decision he made “for my wife and I to step back” was not made lightly.
“There was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges,” Harry says. “And I know I haven’t always gotten it right but as far as this goes, there really was no other option.”
But the two aren’t “walking away,” he adds.
“Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the Commonwealth and my military associations but without public funding,” Harry says.
“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.”
He also talked about the media being a “powerful force.”
“My hope is one day our collective support for each other can be more powerful,” Harry says. “Because this is so much bigger than just us.”
He also mentions that his son Archie — less than a year old — saw snow for the first time “the other day and thought it was bloody brilliant,” garnering another laugh from the audience.
“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,” Harry says.
“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.”
“We are taking a leap of faith so thank you for giving me the courage to take this next step.”
— With files by Emerald Bensadoun