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The trouble with Prince Harry

The promotional clip trailing Prince Harry’s upcoming interview – which has kicked off the publicity trail for his forthcoming memoir Spare – made for sobering viewing. This is a man who actually seemed smarter as a young squaddie than he now does as an adult father of two. Back then, dressing up as a Nazi could be countered by a nice chat with the Chief Rabbi; ignorance could be corrected. There was always the chance of moral and cerebral – I won’t say intellectual – progression.

But now, with psycho-babble leaking from every orifice, there seems absolutely no way this apparently brain-washed Californian vessel will ever find its way back to anything resembling the path of common sense. Though Harry talks a lot about ‘growth’, this was a portrait of a lost young man for whom the getting of wisdom is about as likely as Meghan serving up a Full English (with builder’s tea) for breakfast.

For Harry to be the hero of his own story, those who oppose him in any way must be painted as villains, for where is the epic ‘journey’ if everyone involved is simply a well-meaning, flawed human, trying to do their best and sometimes getting it wrong?

Thus Prince Harry says the royals have shown ‘absolutely no willingness to reconcile’ with him and his wife, and that though he wants to ‘get my father back” and ‘get my brother back’ he requires ‘a family, not an institution’.

This is not the opening gambit of a man who sincerely wishes to muddle through to some sort of compromise with alienated relations; this is a man setting out his stall as Saint George come to slay an archaic dragon.

As well as having a hero complex – White Saviour, even, to coin a social justice phrase, when he starts on about rescuing his wife from the Evil Racist Tabloids – Harry exhibit symptoms of something worse. He almost resembles someone in the grip of a cult: the paranoia, the grandiosity, the isolation; considering how much he bangs on about mental health, he doesn’t seem tremendously healthy himself.

In the clip, he thankfully isn’t wearing the black jumpsuit and beaded bracelets combo he sported on the cover of Time – where he resembled an aide-de-camp-cum-hairdresser reassuring his foxy client that she could one hundred per cent carry off layers – but his navy jumper has the air of the institution about it and someone’s obviously taken his ties away, just in case.

Harry has that urgent, yet unfocused, look which cult members often have: of having been off some place that makes Planet Earth look like a one-horse town; of knowing something which would come as a great revelation to the rest of us, but must be communicated little by little lest it blow our tiny minds.

Prince Charles has typically been considered the ‘eccentric’ member of the Royal Family for many years; Harry now makes his poor old dad seem as normal as Mike Tindall. Barely able to conceal his excitement as he darkly refers to ‘the leaking and the planting’ which takes place within the Firm, it reminds us of a more innocent age. Back then, a prince who talked to plants was as wacky as it got – rather than a prince who talks to the global media about how much he craves privacy, which is a whole other level of lunacy.

Harry talks about having a family as if it is the Holy Grail, rather than the rather basic living arrangement which humankind has chosen to hang out in since the dawn of time. But in elevating it, he may well be letting it slip through his fingers.

He already has a family – but this family has proved itself all too human, a place where members argue and shout and, yes, unless multiple births take place then it’s highly likely that some siblings will be older than others. (Maybe Harry has heard that female cats can have up to eight kittens at once, and believes that this more democratic practice should be adopted by the House of Windsor?)

What families certainly aren’t are set-ups wherein members are paid money to denounce other members ceaselessly, as that generally ends up with show trials and general unpleasantness.

But the Sussexes’ thoroughly modern mantra of ‘Always complain, always explain’ is in real danger now of not preaching to the choir – their comfort zone – but rather preaching to the bread-line leading to the soup-kitchen. With 2023’s economic tsunami about to break, even their natural allies on the world stage, which they so yearn to caper upon, are turning on them. I couldn’t help thinking, as this desperately desiccated man takes yet another step down the Yellow Brick Road, of a quote from The Wizard Of Oz:

‘No matter how dreary and grey our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home.’

Prince Harry had a home, and he had a family. What he now has looks very much like an institution – right down to the 16 toilets.


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