Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made the bombshell announcement on Wednesday that they intend to “step back as senior members of the Royal Family” — but Queen Elizabeth‘s grandson has pondered the move to “common” life before.
“I felt I wanted out but then decided to stay in and work out a role for myself,” he said, adding that his loyalty to the Queen helped him in his decision.
Still, Harry wanted to be more than just a famous figure waving to the crowds who gathered to catch a glimpse of him and his family.
“We don’t want to be just a bunch of celebrities, but instead use our role for good,” he said.
The Duke of Sussex, now 35, also called his time in service the “best escape I’ve ever had.”
“I felt as though I was really achieving something,” he said. “I have a deep understanding of all sorts of people from different backgrounds and felt I was part of a team.”
He continued, “I wasn’t a Prince, I was just Harry.”
After 10 weeks in Afghanistan in 2007, however, the royal had to be pulled for security reasons due to a magazine leaking his location.
“I spent many years kicking my heels and I didn’t want to grow up,” he shared, pointing to his years of headline-making partying that followed.
The royal also said in a 2017 interview with Newsweek magazine that he longed to be “something other than Prince Harry.”
At the same time, he knew his role put him in a position of power — and he wanted to “make something of my life.”
“I feel there is just a smallish window when people are interested in me before [William’s children] take over, and I’ve got to make the most of it,” he said.
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In addition to stepping back as senior members of the royal family, Meghan and Prince Harry shared that they are making plans to split their time between the U.K. and North America.
“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” the Duke and Duchess of Sussex wrote on Instagram. “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment.
“We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity. We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.”
Signing their statement, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the couple also posted a photo from the announcement of their engagement in November 2017.