Prince Harry says it "brings him great sadness" to step back from his royal duties—but "there really was no other option." The prince explained the decision Sunday in an emotional speech at a private dinner for Sentebale, the charity for children with HIV he co-founded with Lesotho's Prince Seeiso in 2006, the Independent reports. He said he was speaking "not as a prince, or a duke, but as Harry," reports the Guardian. "Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the Commonwealth, and my military associations without public funding. Unfortunately that wasn’t possible," said Harry, who reached a deal with Buckingham Palace on Saturday that requires the prince and his wife, Meghan, to stop using their "Royal Highness" titles and repay $3.1 million in public funds used to renovate their home.
Harry, who has long complained about intrusive press coverage, explained that he had found the "love and happiness I had hoped for all my life" with Meghan, and stepping back from royal duties was what he had to do "to take a step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life." "The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back is not one I made lightly," but "there really was no other option," he said, describing the media as "a powerful force." Harry, who is expected to join Meghan and their baby son, Archie, in Canada within days and spend much of his time in North America from now on, said the UK would remain his home and the place that he loves. He described Queen Elizabeth II as "my grandmother, my commander in chief," and said he had the "utmost respect" for her. (Meghan's estranged father spoke out on "Megxit" over the weekend.)