The couple initially stepped back from their positions in January 2020 before relocating to California with their son, Archie, 21 months. Just over one year later, Buckingham Palace confirmed on February 19 that the duo would “not be returning as working members of the royal family” and must surrender their patronages and other honors.
During a candid interview on The Late Late Show With James Corden, Harry, 36, gave some insight into the reason behind his shocking exit.
“It was never walking away, it was stepping back rather than stepping down,” the former military pilot explained on Thursday, February 25. “It was a really difficult environment as I think a lot of people saw. We all know what the British press can be like. It was destroying my mental health.”
Harry saw how “toxic” the treatment of his wife, 39, and family had become and made a choice to protect them at whatever cost. “I did what any husband and what any father would do which is [say], ‘I need to get my family out of here,’ but we never walked away,” he added. “As far as I’m concerned, whatever decisions are made on that side, I will never walk away.”
When the palace made their official statement addressing the couple’s exit, Queen Elizabeth II noted, “While we are all saddened by their decision, the duke and duchess remain much-loved members of the family.” Harry and Meghan, for their part, insisted that they will “remain committed to their duty and service to the U.K. and around the world” and that “service is universal.”
While touring Los Angeles with James Corden, Harry reiterated his intention to be a beacon of positive change, regardless of his status within the royal family.
“I have no idea [what life looks like now],” he explained. “It’s a slightly different version but a continuation of what we were doing back in the U.K. anyway. … My life is always going to be about public service and Meghan signed up to that.”
Five days before news of their permanent departure made headlines, the pair announced that they are expecting baby No. 2 following the Suits alum’s July 2020 miscarriage. As they look forward to the future, a source told Us Weekly exclusively that Harry and Meghan “finally feel free.” The queen, however, wished they’d reached a compromise.
“The queen was hoping that they’d return, but there is not much she can do about it and accepts their decision,” a separate insider told Us. “After lengthy discussions with the palace, Harry and Meghan have quit being royals for good. It was their choice to leave.”