Britain’s Prince Harry has spoken of his sadness at being forced to give up his royal duties in a deal with Queen Elizabeth and senior Windsors, saying there was no other option if he and his wife Meghan were to seek an independent future.
Buckingham Palace and the queen announced on Saturday that Harry and Meghan would no longer be working members of Britain’s monarchy, no longer use their “Royal Highness” titles and would now pay their own way in life, freeing them to forge what they call a “progressive new role”.
The new arrangement was struck to end a crisis the couple sparked by announcing earlier this month they wanted to cut down on official engagements and spend more time in Canada and the United States, while remaining active royals.
In a speech to the Sentebale charity on Sunday, a clearly upset Harry said the final outcome was not what he and his American wife, a former actress, had wanted.
“Our hope was to continue serving the queen, the Commonwealth and my military associations without public funding. Sadly that wasn’t possible,” the prince, the sixth-in-line to the throne, said.
“I’ve accepted this knowing 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 back from all I have ever known to take a step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life.”
Under the arrangement, Harry will remain a prince and the couple will keep their titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex as they begin a new life split between Britain and North America, where they will spend the majority of their time. But they will not take part in any future ceremonial events or royal tours.
Royal commentators said it amounted to an “abdication” from the “firm” – as the royals are known – and showed that, beneath the warm words in which she said Harry and Meghan were much loved, the queen had taken a decisive line by insisting on a clean break.
“It brings me great sadness that it has come to this,” said Harry. He said the decision to step back had followed months of talks and had not been a decision he had come to lightly. They were not walking away, he explained.