Whatever one’s personal opinion about the British Royal family they make headlines, sell newspapers, and have been an integral part of English identity since Athelstan defeated the last of the Viking invaders and consolidated British rule from 925-939.
They are very much in the news again this week with the publication of Prince Harry’s book of memoirs, Spare which has set the record for the fastest-selling non-fiction book of all time.
Harry is the second son of King Charles and his first wife Diana Spencer. The Princess died tragically in Paris in 1997 following a pursuit by paparazzi, hungry as always for photographs of the most famous woman in the world. Harry who was only 12 years of age at the time adored his mother and has never forgiven the Press and has been hostile to every element of it ever since the car accident. It is ironic that with this book he is supplying its voracious appetite with the very sustenance it craves the most, namely a raft of revelations and personal stories which it is most assiduous in gobbling up!
This is not the only contradiction in its pages. While he says he wants to have frank conversations with his family, he has put details of previous frank conversations in the public domain and broken trust. He has effectively done to others what he so hated being done to himself.
A source close to the Palace has said, ‘The problem is no family conversation can ever take place because Harry claims he and Meghan are opposed to leaks and then he and Meghan share extremely private family matters with the public. The Royal family now believe that reconciliation with Prince Harry is “impossible” because Charles, Camilla, and Prince William believe that anything they say will be made public.’
Camilla apparently is astounded by Harry’s claim that she got into bed with the devil [the press]in order to fix her image. Harry directs much of his media fury Camilla’s way claiming that courting the tabloid press in an attempt to rehabilitate her position as the Other Woman was a strategy that made her very dangerous. This is an extremely damaging narrative for a woman for whom public support did not always come easily. In the light of these vilifying comments by her stepson it is unlikely that he and Meghan will attend the King’s Coronation on 6 May. If they are invited it is being widely speculated that they will find a reason to decline.
Family Under Threat
A lot of people have expressed disappointment about what they see as an attack on family and all that it represents. Harry’s popularity has been steadily declining since January 2020 when Buckingham Palace announced that the Sussexes would no longer be working members of the Royal Family. Their decision to quit England for a warmer Californian coastline was regarded by some as a kind of defection. This was the first rupture in the relationship and had echoes of the time when Edward VIII abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson and in so doing, turned his back not only on the throne but also on his relatives.
CNN anchor Don Lemon observed, “Everyone has a family, I have arguments with my family – am I going to put that out there for the whole world to see…I know he’s selling a book but to me, it’s just gauche.”
This raises the whole issue of money. Not only do the publishers Transworld, and Penguin Random House have a bestseller on their hands during January when there is usually a post-Christmas lull in sales, but also Prince Harry will earn $20 million for his autobiographical work.
There are those who are wondering if he has in fact sold his family out for filthy lucre.
Prince Harry has said he loves his family and that the ball is now in their court. He is an angry and privileged man who seems to want all resolutions on his own terms. It may be too late. The palace can be very unforgiving and while Harry has opened the palace curtains for the public to look in at the reality of royal life, he may find that his actions have slammed the door irrevocably against him and his wife.
Written by Marie – Therese Cryan