Prince Harry, Meghan Markle discussed leaving royal family for months

Credit: WPA Pool/Getty Images

Credit: WPA Pool/Getty Images

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle discussed leaving the royal family for months, the Duke of Sussex said Sunday in his first public statement since stepping down.

"The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back is not one I made lightly," Harry said during a charity event in London. "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."

The couple will forgo state funding and repay millions of taxpayer dollars used to refurbish their official residence in Windsor. The agreement will go into effect later this spring and will be reviewed by the palace after a year.

The agreement was made to end the crisis that began more than a week ago when the couple announced plans to step back from their royal duties and spend time in North America.

"Our hope was to continue serving the queen, the Commonwealth and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn't possible," Harry said. "The U.K. is my home and a place that I love. That will never change."

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