Prince Harry breaks silence on royal exit: 'It brings me great sadness'

"There really was no other option," Prince Harry said during remarks at a charity dinner on Sunday.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Alyssa Newcomb

Prince Harry defended his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and spoke about the "great sadness" he feels about stepping back as a senior member of the royal family during a speech at a charity dinner on Sunday night.

"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 last 35 years⁠—but with a clearer perspective," he said during a speech at a Sunday dinner for supporters of Sentebale, a charity he co-founded in 2006 to help people in Africa affected by HIV and AIDS.

A video of Harry's remarks was also shared on the @SussexRoyal Instagram account.

"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 said. "The UK is my home and a place that I love. That will never change."

Harry also told the audience, many of whom who have watched him grow up and know him, that he knows they trust he would choose a wife who "upholds the same values as I do."

"And she does, and she's the same woman I fell in love with," he said. "Once Meghan and I were married, we were excited, we were hopeful, and we were here to serve. For those reasons, it brings me great sadness that it has come to this."

Harry said the decision to take a step back from royal life was one that he made for his family, and after careful consideration.

"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 this goes, there really was no other option," he said.

Harry, Meghan and baby Archie now plan to spend most of their time in North America, but the Duke of Sussex wanted Sentebale supporters to know that he still plans to work on behalf of the charity.

"What I want to make clear is we're not walking away, and we certainly aren't walking away from you," he said. "Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn't possible."

Queen Elizabeth II issued a statement on Saturday calling Harry, Meghan and baby Archie valued and loved members of her family. She said the couple would no longer take public funds, pay rent on their home at Frogmore Cottage, repay nearly $3 million in public funds for recent home renovations and would no longer use their HRH titles.

Harry ended his speech on Sunday referencing his mother, Princess Diana.

"When I lost my mom 23 years ago, you took me under your wing," he said to the organization. "You 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."

"It has been our privilege to serve you. And we will continue to lead a life of service."