The Duke of Sussex has described his “great sadness" over his split from the Royal Family but said he had “no other option.”
In his first personal comments about his decision to step back from public life, the Duke expressed disappointment with the conclusions reached about his future.
He revealed he had hoped to continue serving the Queen, the commonwealth, and his military associations without public funding, but added: "Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible.”
The heartfelt speech was delivered at a private dinner for Sentebale, the charity he co-founded in 2006, in London, barely 24 hours after Buckingham Palace announced that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were to give up their HRH titles and would no longer formally represent the 93-year-old monarch.
He said: "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.”
He added: "The UK is my home and a place that I love. That will never change.
"What I want to make clear is we’re not walking away, and we certainly aren’t walking away from you.”
The Duke, 35, insisted that his 38-year-old wife upheld the same values as he did and was the same woman with whom he had fallen in love.
"We both do everything we can to fly the flag and carry out our roles for this country with pride,” 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.”
The Duke blamed the media for the seismic schism in the Royal Family, describing it as a "powerful force”.
Sentebale held an event on Sunday 19th January 2020, hosted by The Caring Foundation, to raise funds for Sentebale’s vital work supporting young people affected by HIV in southern Africa. pic.twitter.com/bxL2RqhiNS— @Sentebale (@Sentebale) January 19, 2020
He said he wanted to share “the truth” about the revelations of the last few weeks, insisting that he was still the same Harry of old "but with a clearer perspective."
"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!"
The Duke said he had accepted the outcome of the negotiations that had prevailed since he and his wife announced their intention to “step back” from public life earlier this month but insisted that it did not change who he was nor how committed he was.
"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,” he added.
"I was born into this life, and it is a great honour to serve my country and the Queen…. It has been our privilege to serve you, and we will continue to lead a life of service."
The Duke said he will always have "the utmost respect" for his grandmother, the Queen, who is understood to have made it clear from the outset that the Sussexes were not going to get their “cake and eat it” wish by keeping one foot in the royal fold.
"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," he said. "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."