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Harry ‘flies back to Canada’ after move to step back endorsed by charity chief

The duke gave an emotional speech on Sunday night, saying he had ‘no other option’ but to give up his official royal duties.

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The Duke of Sussex (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Duke of Sussex (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Duke of Sussex (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Duke of Sussex has reportedly flown back to Canada to be reunited with his wife and baby son after his decision to step back from royal life was endorsed by the chairman of his flagship charity.

Harry left the UK after meeting Prime Minister Boris Johnson and world leaders at the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London, which is likely to be one of his few remaining official engagements before the Sussexes take a “leap of faith” and leave the monarchy in the spring.

The duke gave an emotional speech on Sunday night, saying he had “no other option” but to give up his official royal duties and forge a new life in Canada, where wife Meghan and son Archie are setting up home.

Johnny Hornby, chairman of Sentebale, a charity co-founded by Harry and Lesotho’s Prince Seeiso, said the duke had indicated the solution was not something he “ideally” wanted.

Asked if it mattered to the Africa-based charity, which supports youngsters living with HIV, if Harry was royal or had a title, Mr Hornby told Radio 4’s Today programme: “No, I don’t think it matters at all.

“I think he has a kind of unique ability and an aura around him when he’s with children, when he’s with any gathering, I think his passion comes over.

“We don’t need from Sentebale’s perspective his title, we just need his time and his passion and he’s committed to give us that.”

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Harry with Boris Johnson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Harry with Boris Johnson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Harry with Boris Johnson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

At a private event for Sentebale on Sunday night in London, Harry spoke about leaving royal duties behind in a bid for a “more peaceful life” for his family.

His comments came after Buckingham Palace released the outcome of talks between the Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and Harry over the future role of the Sussexes.

Harry and Meghan had wanted to remain as working royals, although not prominent members, and drop their public funding so they could become financially independent – a dual role many commentators said was fraught with problems.

In a statement issued on Saturday after royal family talks, the Sussexes announced they will stop carrying out royal duties from the spring, no longer use HRH and will repay the taxpayers millions spent on their Berkshire home.

Critics have accused the couple of turning their backs on the monarchy to enjoy the freedom of being able to take on commercial ventures.

The Evening Standard has reported the Queen had the choice of stripping Harry of his dukedom and using one of his lesser titles.

The newspaper quoted a source as saying it was “seriously considered” but another source told the PA news agency this was “categorically untrue”.

The discussions were described as “extremely friendly and constructive” when they ended.

In the Sentebale speech, Harry told invited guests: “What I want to make clear is we’re not walking away, and we certainly aren’t walking away from you.

“Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the Commonwealth and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible.

“I’ve accepted this, knowing that it doesn’t change who I am or how committed I am. But I hope that helps you understand what it had to come to, that I would step my family back from all I have ever known, to take a step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life.”

He couldn't be more passionate then he has been to date, and he'll certainly be as passionate going forwardJohnny Hornby

Mr Hornby said he met Harry on Friday when they went through major events for the coming year, from trips to Africa to the opening of new camps that support teenagers living with HIV, and a research project the charity is doing with Royal Holloway, University of London.

He added of the duke: “He couldn’t be more passionate then he has been to date, and he’ll certainly be as passionate going forward.”

Harry was not officially attending the investment summit at a London hotel but was holding one-to-one meetings with a number of foreign leaders at the request of the UK Government.

He sat down to talks with Moroccan prime minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani, Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika, and Filipe Nyusi, president of Mozambique.

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This morning at the UK-Africa Investment Summit, hosted by the UK Government, The Duke of Sussex met with leaders from Malawi 🇲🇼 , Mozambique 🇲🇿 and Morocco 🇲🇦- touching on investment in renewable energy, jobs, tourism, and environmental issues. The Duke has been involved in various causes in Africa for over a decade, and has helped to initiate a number of key projects in the region surrounding conservation and tourism, the threat posed by landmines and the HIV/AIDS epedemic. During their recent visit to Southern Africa last September, The Duke and Duchess met with project teams working to encourage youth employment, entrepreneurship, education and health. Through their roles as President and Vice President of The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, The Duke and Duchess have worked to support a growing network of young change-makers across the Commonwealth and will continue to do so, especially in the run up to CHOGM 2020. The Duke of Sussex’s love for Africa is well known - he first visited the continent at the age of thirteen and more than two decades later, the people, culture, wildlife and resilient communities continue to inspire and motivate him every day. Photo © PA

A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on

It is likely the Government asked Harry to meet the African leaders because he has a keen interest in the continent and the royal family employs “soft diplomacy” to help strengthen Britain’s ties with her allies.

In a few months the duke will no longer be representing the UK in an official capacity and events like the summit will only be open to him as a guest.

Questions have also been raised about how Harry and Meghan will continue with their Sussex Royal brand when they cease being working royals.

This issue and other questions – including funding for the couple and son Archie’s protection – have yet to be resolved.

PA