For a couple hell-bent on privacy, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have no qualms about repeating very private conversations
What could possibly have so enraged a man as mild-mannered as Prince William that he went round to his brother’s house in a “piping hot” mood and put him on his backside? The more I think about this latest revelation from Prince Harry, the more I find we should be asking not what, but whom?
arrry’s wife, Meghan Markle – according to Harry’s account of what William said that day in 2019 – had apparently been “rude” and “abrasive”. We’re not told who she behaved in this manner towards, but you can join the dots. It’s clear William had reached breaking point.
His wife, Kate Middleton, isn’t mentioned, but if I were a gambling man her treatment at Meghan’s hands must have been what lay behind the future king’s exasperation.
No sooner had the viewing public lumbered their way through Harry and Meghan’s beautifully filmed Netflix whingefest than along comes Spare, Harry’s memoir. It’s explosive to the point there can’t be any winners – apart from the publisher and Harry’s burgeoning bank account.
I was as shocked as anyone to read about the physical altercation between the two princes. Because when you speak to anyone who covers the royal beat, they will tell you William is a calm presence, thoroughly professional and generally likeable.
On a good day, he has been known to walk down to the back of the aircraft on royal tours and spend time chatting with the press pack. Something he doesn’t have to do but he’s aware it’s good PR and he does it.
Given Harry survived two tours serving in the British Army, it’s unfathomable to think that he came off worst in a tussle with William, later calling his therapist for help before informing Meghan about the incident.
He is undoubtedly a young man with some problems and a burning hatred of the media, after witnessing the harassment his mother Diana encountered on a daily basis.
Harry has been known to rip into reporters who have asked the wrong question or – in his view – overstepped the line. (I might add, this trait appeared only when Meghan came on the scene).
Many of the points made in the Netflix series were valid, but there’s a time and a place to pick your battles. Suing the UK press (both Harry and Meghan have ongoing legal wrangles with British newspapers), then lambasting them on TV will never get you positive headlines, though it will make sure your book sells. Money, and making more of it, seems to be at the heart of their project.
The feeling in royal circles throughout December was that they were “wearied, not worried”. Now the palace path seems to be a strategy of maintaining a dignified silence and letting the storm blow itself out.
Perhaps they believe Harry and Meghan will eventually run out of ammunition. My view is that, if anything, Harry is only getting started. The book will inevitably be the publishing success of 2023 and soon there will be an agent reaching out asking whether there’s enough material for a follow-up.
Harry and Meghan have torched the rulebook, much like they burnt every bridge they’ve gone over on the way out
What really rankles with people here is that Harry and Meghan’s extravagant wedding cost upwards of £32m, the bulk of which was spent on security. Not long after, they bolted, claiming they wanted to protect their privacy. For a couple so hell-bent on doing that, they seem to have few qualms about repeating very private conversations that were had inside the House of Windsor.
Frankly, there has never been anything like this in living memory. Think back to the time Queen Elizabeth visited Manchester and told someone it “rains a lot” there. That was about as interesting as it used to get on some royal visits.
The true beauty of the queen from a PR perspective was that nobody knew what she thought about anything and that was the way the royal advisers wanted it.
Everything with the Windsors is choreographed. Reporters are well briefed and this is precisely how they want the game played. Harry and Meghan have torched the rulebook, much like they burnt every bridge they’ve gone over on the way out.
And what of the British public? The UK is in the worst state I have ever seen, and I’ve lived in Britain since 1993. Inflation is rampant, mortgages are rising every month and energy bills are skyrocketing.
I doubt there’ll be much sympathy for a couple who managed to spend £32m on a day out in Windsor for their wealthy pals. When some people are choosing between heating and eating, there won’t be many worrying about a prince taking a light beating.
One person who must be enjoying all of this is Prince Andrew. The newspapers have forgotten him for a while, though you get the impression Charles would much rather everyone forgot him.
So what now? Harry has hinted he may not attend his father’s coronation in May and it’s probably just as well. The royal machine wouldn’t want to run the risk of another row – or indeed, provide more material for another book.
For a guy who was once enormously popular, his star has fallen quite spectacularly.
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