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Prince Harry expresses 'great sadness' about leaving royal duties

January 20, 2020 | 12:42

Britain's Prince Harry on Sunday (Jan 19) said it brought him great sadness that he had to leave his royal duties.

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Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (right) puts her hand on Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex's back on Jul 10, 2018. (Photo: AFP/Tolga AKMEN)

Buckingham Palace and Queen Elizabeth announced on Saturday that Harry and Meghan would no longer be working members of Britain’s monarchy, no longer use their "Royal Highness" titles and would now pay their own way in life, freeing them to forge new careers.

The new arrangement was struck to end a crisis the couple sparked by announcing they wanted to cut down on official engagements and spend more time in North America, while remaining active royals.

Under the arrangement with the Queen, Harry will remain a prince and the couple will keep their titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex as they begin a new life split between North America and Britain, but they will not take part in any future ceremonial events or royal tours.

In a speech to the Sentebale charity, Harry said the final outcome was not what he and his wife had wanted.

"Our hope was to continue serving the queen, the Commonwealth and my military associations without public funding. Sadly that wasn't possible," he said.

"I've accepted this knowing it doesn't change who I am, or how committed I am. But I hope that helps you understand what it had come to, that I would step back from all I have ever known to take a step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life."

"It brings me great sadness that it has come to this," said Harry. He said the decision to step back had followed months of talks and had not been a decision he had come to lightly. They were not walking away, he explained.

"As far as this goes, there really was no other option," he added.

He told that he founded to help children with HIV in Africa that he wanted them to hear the truth from him "not as a Prince, or a Duke, but as Harry".

According to royal sources, the couple's plans for independence, caught the rest of the royal family by surprise earlier this month and left the queen and other senior members hurt and disappointed.

However, in a TV interview aired in October, both had made it clear how they were struggling with the immense media attention. The couple also began legal action against one newspaper for printing a letter she sent to her father, Thomas Markle.

Harry said he felt his wife had faced "bullying" from some tabloids similar to that faced by his mother Princess Diana who died in a car crash while trying to escape paparazzi photographers.

"I was born into this life and it is a great honour to serve my country and the queen," he said.

"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."

Buckingham Palace have said the couple would no longer receive public money and that they would repay the cost of refurbishing their cottage in Windsor, which official figures show amounted to 2.4 million pounds (USD 3.1 million).

But certain details, such as their future security arrangements or whether the couple could continue to use the "Sussex Royal" title for their website and branding, have either not been finalised or publicly revealed./.