Prince Harry says he’s taking a “leap of faith” as he steps back from royal duties in an attempt to build a more peaceful life – one free of the journalists who have filmed, photographed and written about him since the day he was born.
As Harry reportedly flew out of Britain on Monday to be reunited with his wife Meghan in Canada, many predicted the prince and the former TV star would struggle to escape global fame and its pressures.
“They believe that if they are not representing the monarchy any longer, the tabloid press will eventually go away because it will be so expensive for them – that there won’t be the same savage approach. They feel they will be able to control it more from Canada,” said Pauline Maclaran, a business professor at Royal Holloway University of London and author of “Royal Fever: The British Monarchy in Consumer Culture.”
Harry has long had a frosty relationship with the media, and on Sunday he made it clear the press was a major reason for the couple’s decision to step back from royal life. In a personal speech that referenced his mother, Princess Diana, who died in a car accident in 1997 while being pursued by paparazzi, he said he had “no other option” but to step away.
Harry has accused the media of directing “a wave of abuse and harassment” at Meghan, including “racial undertones” in articles.
“When I lost my mum 23 years ago, you took me under your wing,” Harry said Sunday at a London dinner for Sentebale, his Africa-based charity supporting youngsters affected by HIV. “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.”
Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, announced Saturday the terms under which the prince and his wife will walk away from most royal duties.
The agreement, reached after crisis talks among the top royals, was a “constructive and supportive way forward,” her statement said.
Under the terms of the deal, Harry and Meghan will no longer receive public funds and they won’t use their “royal highness” titles once they stop performing royal duties. Harry must relinquish his honorary military appointments, including his role as Captain General of the Royal Marines.
Harry’s speech made it clear he and Meghan were disappointed they won’t be allowed to carry on with some royal duties.
“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.
“The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back is not one I made lightly,” Harry said Sunday. “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.”
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