Prince Harry Opens up About Decision to Leave Royal Family, 'Toxic Environment' in Britain

A week after Buckingham Palace confirmed they officially resigned as working royals, Prince Harry is speaking out about his and wife Meghan Markle’s decision to take a step back from royal life. During an appearance on The Late Late Show Thursday, the Duke of Sussex explained he was "stepping back" from his duties as a British royal rather than "stepping down," something he says he had to do due to a "toxic environment" in Britain.

Speaking with Corden as they embarked on an open bus tour of Los Angeles, Harry said their decision to take a step back from royal life and leave Britain for L.A. "was never walking away, it was stepping back rather than stepping down." The British royal blamed the decision on "a really difficult environment," giving a nod to British tabloids when saying, "we all know what the British press can be like." Harry, who called the treatment "toxic," said "it was destroying my mental health."

"I did what any husband and any father would do. [I said,] 'I need to get my family out of here,'" he continued. "We never walked away. And as far as I'm concerned, whatever decisions I made on that side — I will never walk away. I'll always be contributing. My life is about public service: wherever I'm in the world, it's going to be the same thing."

His appearance on The Late Late Show came after Buckingham Palace last Friday confirmed Harry and Markle would not return as working members of the British royal family. That announcement came a little more than a year after the couple announced their decision to "step back as 'senior' members of the Royal Family." At the time, the couple said they would instead "work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen." A one-year review period followed, with the palace announcing once that period was up, "While all are saddened by their decision, The Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family."

As part of their departure as working royals, the couple will no longer keep their patronages. However, while the palace said "it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service," Harry and Markle have pushed back against that, sharing that they fully intend to live lives of public service. The couple currently resides in Los Angeles with son Archie, with their second child on the way. Since leaving the royal family, they have signed multimillion-dollar deals with media companies Spotify and Netflix. They are set to give a “wide-ranging” interview with Oprah Winfrey in March.