The Duke of Sussex has given his first speech since the Queen released a statement announcing the details of the agreement reached for her grandson and wife Meghan as they step back from royal life. Prince Harry, 35, was spotted arriving at The Ivy Chelsea Garden on Sunday night for a private fundraiser in aid of his charity Sentebale, where he gave a heartfelt speech about his future and spoke of his "great sadness" about stepping back from royal life and that it wasn't a decision he made lightly.
WATCH: Harry's speech in full
Before talking about the charity's work, Harry addressed recent events that have led to the deal for his and Meghan's new independent life, where they will split their time between the UK and North America. He said: "Before I begin, I must say that I can only imagine what you may have heard or perhaps read over the last 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 that many of you have watched grow up over the last 35 years – but with a clearer perspective."
Harry is expected to join Meghan and Archie in Canada after his meetings in London early next week, but he continued by saying that the UK will always be his home and that he and Meghan had hoped to serve the Queen and country: "The UK is my home and a place that I love. That will never change. I have grown up feeling support 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 had hoped for all my life. Finally, the second son of Diana got hitched, hurray! I also know 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. 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. Once Meghan and I were married, we were excited, we were hopeful, and we were here to serve."
Harry arriving at the Ivy Chelsea Garden
The Duke went on to speak about the challenges he and Meghan have faced: "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 gotten it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option. What I want to make clear is 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 to 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. I was born into this life, and it is a great honour to serve my country and the queen. When I lost my mum 23 years ago, you took me under your wing. 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 just us."
Harry finished by thanking his family and friends for their support: "It has been our privilege to serve you, and we will continue to lead a life of service. It has also been a privilege to meet so many of you, and to feel your excitement for our son Archie, who saw snow for the first time the other day and thought it was bloody brilliant! 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. 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. Together, you have given me an education about living. And this role has taught me more about what is right and just than I could have ever imagined. We are taking a leap of faith - thank you for giving me the courage to take this next step.
The glamorous Ivy Chelsea Garden is down the road from the Brook House pub in Fulham, owned by one of Archie's reported godparents, Mark Dyer, where the Prince was spotted having a low-key dinner with friends on Friday. For the Sentebale dinner, Harry was dressed smartly in a blue blazer, an open collared white shirt, dark jeans and blue suede shoes.
Harry is expected to return to Canada next week
On Saturday night, Buckingham Palace released details of the agreement reached for Harry and Meghan, including that the couple will no longer use their HRH status and will no longer represent the Queen under the agreement reached by all four royal households. They will continue to support their private patronages and have agreed to repay the £2.4million of taxpayers' money spent on refurbishing Frogmore Cottage, which will remain their UK home.
In her statement, the Queen said: "Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family. I recognise 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.
"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."
Harry and Meghan at Canada House before announcing their decision
Following the decision, Harry and Meghan will remain Duke and Duchess of Sussex and will be individually styled as Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. The couple will continue to support their private patronages but Harry will lose his military patronages and will no longer serve as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, representing the Queen.
He will step down as Captain-General of the Royal Marines, Honorary Air Commandant at RAF Honington and Commodore-in-Chief, Small Ships and Diving. He and Meghan will, however, retain their roles as President and Vice President of The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust. There will, however, be a “period of transition” before all this comes into effect.
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