(CNN) -- Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, expressed "great sadness" Sunday evening in his first public statement since Buckingham Palace announced he and his wife, Meghan, would give up their royal titles and would not represent the Queen as working members of the royal family.
"The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back is not one I made lightly," Harry said in a speech at 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."
"Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding," he said. "Unfortunately, that wasn't possible."
Earlier in this month, the couple announced they would step back from their roles as senior members of the royal family, split their time between the United Kingdom and North America and work toward becoming financially independent.
Under the agreement announced Saturday, Harry and Meghan will also pay back 2.4 million pounds (about $3 million) of British taxpayers' money used to renovate their home, Frogmore Cottage.
"I've accepted this, knowing that it doesn't change who I am or how committed I am," Harry said of his family's future on Sunday. "But I hope that helps you understand what it had 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."
"I was born into this life," he said, "and it is a great honor to serve my country and the Queen."