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Prince Harry has broken his silence on his break with the royal family, saying there was “no other option” for him and wife Meghan Markle.

Speaking at a dinner in central London held for his Sentebale charity supporting children with HIV in southern Africa, the Duke of Sussex said it brings him “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.” 

Harry confirmed that the couple did not ultimately reach the settlement they were hoping for.

Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible,” he said. “I’ve accepted this, knowing that it doesn’t change who I am or how committed I am.”

He added that he hopes his comments help those gathered “(understand) what it had come to” and that he had to “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”.

Harry added: “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.” 

The prince, who introduced Scottish singer Lewis Capaldi to the room following his speech, said his royal duties had given him an “education about living.”

“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.”

Harry’s comments come a day after Buckingham Palace announced that the couple are to lose their royal titles of “His Royal Highness” and “Her Royal Highness.”

The dramatic conclusion came almost two weeks after Harry and Markle first announced their plans to “step back” as senior royals in a shock move that rattled Buckingham Palace and much of the U.K.

On Jan. 13, Queen Elizabeth held emergency talks at her Sandringham Estate with Harry, Prince Charles and Prince William, after which she said the family was “entirely supportive” of the couple.

On Saturday, Buckingham Palace announced that in addition to retiring their HRH titles, the Sussexes will be required to pay back £2.4 million ($3.1 million) of taxpayer money used in renovating their U.K. home. They will also pay a commercial rent for the property going forward. The withdrawal from royal duties also means that Harry will give up his military activities – a role that was particularly meaningful to the prince.

With a settlement now in place, the couple will be free to strike commercial deals, and the likes of Netflix is already showing interest in the pair.

At a PGA event in Los Angeles over the weekend, the streaming giant’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos was asked whether he might be interested in working with the Sussexes in the future, to which he responded, “Who wouldn’t be interested? Yes, sure.”

Markle – who is already believed to have struck a voiceover deal with Disney in exchange for a donation to the Elephants Without Borders charity – could be well-placed to work with Netflix in the future, given best friend Jessica Mulroney’s deal with the streaming giant for wedding reality series “I Do, Redo.”

Reach Prince Harry’s speech in full below:

Good evening everyone. Thank you very much for being here for Sentebale, a charity that myself and Prince Seeiso created in 2006 to honour our mother’s legacy in supporting those affected by HIV and AIDS. Before I begin, I must say I can only imagine what you may have heard or 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 many of you have watched grow up over the past 35 years, but now with a clearer perspective.

The U.K. is my home and a place that I love, and that will never change. I’ve grown up feeling supported from so many of you and I watched as you welcomed Meghan with open arms, as you saw me find the love and happiness I 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. 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 association, without public funding. Unfortunately, that was impossible. I’ve accepted this, knowing it doesn’t change who I am or how committed I am, but I hope that will help you understand what it had come to: that I would step my family back from all I have ever known, to take a step forward into what I hope will be a more peaceful life.

I was born into this life and it is a great honor to serve my country and the Queen. When I lost my mum 23 years ago, you took me under your wing. You 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.

It has been our privilege to serve you and we will continue to lead a life of service, so in that respect, nothing changes. It has also been a privilege to meet so many of you and feel your excitement for our son Archie, who saw snow for the first time and thought it was bloody brilliant.

I will always have the utmost respect for my grandmother, my commander-in-chief, and I’m 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, so thank you for giving me the courage to take this next step.