Prince Harry on Monday paid an emotional tribute to his late grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, whom he referred to as his “compass”, and vowed to “honor” his father in his new role as King Charles III.
In his first public reaction since the queen’s death on Thursday, Harry, 37, who left the monarchy in 2020, said he was “forever grateful” to his grandmother, whom he said he “missed so much.”
“Grandma, although this final farewell brings us great sadness, I am eternally grateful for all our first meetings, from my earliest childhood memories, to our first meeting as Commander-in-Chief, to the first moment you met my dear wife. and you hugged your great-grandchildren,” he continued.
Harry and his wife Meghan shocked the monarchy by announcing that they would be stepping down from royal duties and moving to the United States in early 2020.
From there, they launched a series of broadsides criticizing his life in the institution, including allegations of racism.
That exacerbated tensions with his older brother, heir to the throne Prince William, with whom he reportedly barely speaks, and his father, now King Charles III.
But Harry, who was visiting Britain with Meghan when the queen died, received an olive branch from Charles in his first speech as king, when he spoke of his “love” for the couple.
William also invited his brother and sister-in-law to join them on an impromptu walk to see the floral tributes at Windsor Castle on Saturday.
Harry, a former British Army captain who served in Afghanistan, said the queen was his commander-in-chief but also his “grandmother.”
He said he would treasure the memory of the first time he met Meghan and hugged the couple’s young children, Archie, three, and Lilibet, one.
“I appreciate these moments shared with you, and the many other special moments in between. We already miss you so much, not just us, but the whole world,” she added.
“Now we honor my father in his new role as King Carlos III. Thank you for his commitment to service. Thank you for your good advice.”
“Thank you for your contagious smile. We too smile knowing that you and grandfather (Prince Philip) are reunited now, and both together in peace.”
Harry and Meghan traveled from their new home in California last week to attend a series of benefits in Britain and Germany, where the upcoming Invictus Games for disabled veterans will be held.
Queen Elizabeth II joined her grandson in a 2016 parody video before the first edition of the multi-sport event, poking fun at the pranks of former US President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle.
The video indicated a close relationship between Harry and his grandmother, which persisted despite the disruptive announcement that he was leaving royal life.
He allowed the couple to keep their official titles as Duke and Duchess of Sussex and said they would remain “much loved members of the family”.
The late monarch also refrained from publicly rejecting the couple’s claims of racism, stating “some memories may vary” but promising an investigation.
Harry rushed to the Balmoral estate in the Scottish Highlands last Thursday after an announcement about the queen’s health.
But he traveled separately from his brother and other senior royals, arriving several hours after the death was announced.
Harry, who is expected to remain in Britain for the queen’s funeral next Monday, is believed to have last seen her in private during her public Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June.