(NEW YORK) — Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex and sixth in line to the British throne, allegedly spoke out about his decision to leave the royal family in phone calls with Russian pranksters.
The phone calls were published by The Sun newspaper on Wednesday, just two days after Harry and his wife Duchess Meghan attended their final engagement as senior, working members of the royal family. The pair will step down from their roles officially on March 31.
“I can assure you, marrying a prince or princess is not all it’s made out to be,” a man reported to be Harry is heard saying on one of the calls. “But sometimes the right decision isn’t always the easy one, and this decision certainly wasn’t the easy one but it was the right decision for our family, the right decision to be able to protect my son.”
The two pranksters on the other end of the phone with Harry, Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexey Stolyarovi, told ABC News they gave the tapes of the phone calls to The Sun. They claim they called Prince Harry at the home in Canada he and Meghan share with their 10-month-old son Archie.
Kuznetsov and Stolyarovi say they posed as teen climate activist Greta Thunberg and her father in their conversations with Harry.
In two phone calls that spanned 45 minutes, the man heard in the audio touched on several sensitive topics, including his own views on President Donald Trump, saying, “The mere fact that Donald Trump is pushing the coal industry is so big in America, he has blood on his hands.”
The man believed to be Harry also spoke about how best to combat climate change, saying, “Unfortunately, the world is being led by some very sick people, so people like yourselves and [the] younger generation are the ones that are going to make all the difference.”
Buckingham Palace had no comment when asked by ABC News about the tapes. Neither the palace nor Prince Harry have confirmed that Harry is the man heard on the phone calls.
“We talk about this being a prank but actually it’s not particularly funny for Prince Harry,” said ABC News royal contributor Victoria Murphy. “This has been quite a difficult period in his life.”
“He thought he was talking to someone that he knows. He thought it was a private conversation. So for that to be put into the public domain, [it’s] quite unkind,” she said.
Harry and Meghan have been living on Vancouver Island for the past several months as they chart their new future.
In their new roles as non-working royals, the Sussexes will no longer use their HRH titles and will also no longer represent Queen Elizabeth and no longer receive public funds for royal duties, freeing them to earn money on their own.
They also plan to spend the majority of their time in North America, though they are keeping their Frogmore Cottage home in the U.K.
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