“We were excited, we were hopeful, and we were here to serve.”
Those are Prince Harry’s words from last night about how he and Meghan had approached their new life in the Royal Family after their wedding in 2018.
And it’s difficult to know how to assess last night’s speech as Harry reflected on his and Meghan’s exit from the Royal Family.
He blamed the media for them leaving.
He admitted that their exit deal is not the one they wanted.
He said it followed “many years of challenges” and that he and Meghan are now “taking a leap of faith”.
But it was a speech from the heart, from Harry’s perspective, which, we should be clear, might not be shared by other Royals in other households.
He said he wanted to tell the truth but added, poignantly “as much as I can share”. Presumably, if he were to tell the real story of what has happened behind the scenes, the guests would have been there all night.
The media was not invited to the speech, which was described by his staff as a “private dinner”.
Instead, the speech was filmed by a member of the Sussex team and released afterwards on their Instagram page, which is presumably how they want things to work from here.
The dinner was for the HIV charity, Sentebale, which Harry set up in 2006 with Prince Seeiso, after his gap year in Southern Africa.
Harry has made it clear he will keep supporting Sentebale, after his move to Canada.
He called the media a “powerful force” which suggests he still sees the press as the main enemy and lays much of the blame for his departure at the media’s door.
And here is the paragraph in which Harry admitted this wasn’t the departure he had wanted:
“What I want to make clear is we’re not walking away...Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the Commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible.”
It wasn’t possible because Buckingham Palace had concluded there was no half-in, half-out model that could be made to work.
They decided it wasn’t possible to have working Royals living in a different country for the majority of the year, making corporate and financial decisions which would inevitably trade on their royal titles, whilst keeping a house at Royal Family expense that they were rarely in.
And how could Harry represent a British Army regiment as their figurative head, if he were to be out of the UK for most of the year.
Of Meghan, Harry spoke of a wife who “upholds the same values as I do” and he thought it necessary to reject any notion that his wife had changed since she joined the Royal Family: “She’s the same woman I feel in love with.”
Meghan had been “welcomed with open arms”, according to Harry, and together they wanted to “fly the flag” and carry out their roles for the UK “with pride”.
His mother, Diana was mentioned too.
“When I lost my mum 23 years ago, you took me under your wing”, Harry said and he spoke emotionally about finding, in Meghan, the “love and happiness that I had hoped for all my life.”
At the end, Harry said: “We are taking a leap of faith – thank you for giving me the courage to take this next step.”
There was a pause as Harry looked at his notes and the audience didn’t know how to respond.
Eventually, they applauded but Harry looked emotional.
This is an enormous step for him.