Prince Harry has revealed that he and Meghan felt they had no option but to stand down from their royal family duties.
In a speech to supporters of his Sentebale charity at a dinner in London this evening, he insisted he and Meghan are ‘not walking away’ but felt ‘great sadness’ over the new arrangement.
The Prince admitted he hasn’t ‘always got it right’ in the past but had not taken the decision to step back from public duties lightly.
Over a week of negotiations between the couple and the Queen have led to their stepping back from public duties in exchange for repaying millions in taxpayer funds and limiting how they can use their titles. But Harry also appeared to claim talks over his and Meghan’s role in the monarchy have been going on for ‘months’.
He said: ‘Before I begin, I must say I can only imagine what you may have heard and perhaps read over the past few weeks. ‘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 who many of you have watched grow up over the last 35 years but now with a clearer perspective.’
‘The UK 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 me find the love and happiness that I had hoped for all my life. ‘Finally, the second son of Diana got hitched. Hurray.’ ‘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. ‘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 and I know I haven’t always got it right, but as far as this goes there really was no other option.’
His emotional comments came as reports emerged that the couple’s deal with the Queen over their future commercial projects will be subject to an annual review. Their apparent hopes for a ‘half-in, half-out’ role in the monarchy were dashed last night as Buckingham Palace said they ‘can no longer formally represent’ the Queen after stepping back from public duties.
After 10 days of talks, an agreement was reached whereby they can quit front-line duties but cannot use their HRH titles, must pay back £2.4 million of taxpayer cash and no longer receive public funds. The pair have been allowed to use their Sussex Royal brand. But according to Mail Online, the arrangement could be reviewed in the spring of 2021.
It was suggested the royal household could use the review to step in if it is felt Harry and Meghan are misusing their royal background for financial gain. Because the couple have not technically been stripped of their HRH styles, like Princess Diana was after her divorce, they can continue to be called Duke and Duchess of Sussex. They have now trademarked their new ‘sussexroyal’ brand for up to 100 items.
While Prince Harry has to give up his honorary military titles, he and Meghan are also allowed to keep the patronages they gained while full-time royals. The only known bind on how they use their informal royal links is a promise that ‘everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty’.
Prince Charles’ private Duchy of Cornwall estate will also continue to fund his younger son and daughter-in-law. The Queen issued an emotional statement saying she recognised the ‘challenges’ of the past year.
She said: ‘I want to thank them for all their dedicated work across this country, the Commonwealth and beyond, and am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family. ‘It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life.’