“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.”

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, has spoken out publicly for the first time since the announcement that he and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, would step back as working members of the royal family — no longer receiving public funding and no longer using their royal titles.

In a moving speech at a London fundraiser for Sentebale, the charity he cofounded in 2006, Harry addressed his decision and shed some light on the factors that led him to take such a radical step.

“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,” he said. “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 that we’re not walking away, and we certainly aren’t walking away from you. Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the Commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding. 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.”

“When I lost my mum 23 years ago, you took me under your wing,” he said to the audience. “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 us.”

See full speech here:

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