Prince Harry’s interview with Newsweek with Angela Levin, have you read it yet? It’s generating a lot of headlines today for a comment that Harry made about being king:
“We are involved in modernizing the British monarchy. We are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of the people…. Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time.”
When you combine that quote with the other parts of the interview in which Harry talks about how he and William want to be “normal” and “ordinary”, about buying his own groceries, and picking up his own meat, it definitely comes across as kind of precious. I mean, how many of you have had to stay late at the office and just want to go home after work but you still have to pull off the highway to get to the grocery store, otherwise there will be no dinner? How many times have you just wanted to stay in bed on a Saturday morning and read a book but you have to drag your ass over to the auto shoppe because it’s the only day you have time to get your oil changed before you burn out your engine? The activities that Harry calls “normal” and “ordinary” – like picking up groceries and taking the car in – are choices that he gets to make. For almost everyone else, they’re a necessity. For almost everyone else, they’re not standing at the meat counter waiting for their porkchops thinking, “OMG this is so amazingly NORMAL, I love it so much!” They’re actually thinking, “F-ck me, what else do I need to get before everything closes and how bad is the traffic going to be, will I have time to get this into the oven before the kids have to start getting ready for bed?”
That said, focusing on just that one part of Angela Levin’s article, based on nearly a year of observing of Harry and speaking to him regularly, might be unfair. To be fair, perhaps the counterpoint to that ill-worded statement about no one wanting to be king or queen and preferring to be “normal” and “ordinary” is to consider how Harry’s privilege, while advantageous almost all the time, actually failed him in one big way – when Princess Diana died:
“My mother had just died, and I had to walk a long way behind her coffin, surrounded by thousands of people watching me while millions more did on television,” he tells Newsweek . His face hardens. “I don’t think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances. I don’t think it would happen today.”
Harry was asked to do that, officially, by the family. Unofficially, though, if we are honest, he was compelled to do it by the public. The world felt so personally invested in Diana’s passing, it was almost as though we demanded to see our collective grief personified and performed by two boys, 15 and 12, who’d just lost their mother. Let’s not pretend that we didn’t want those close-ups of Harry’s card, “Mummy”, his handwriting unmistakably childlike, placed on the bed of flowers that sat atop her coffin. Let’s not pretend that the sight of them, walking with their heads down during the procession, didn’t comfort us in some way when, really, who would have needed more comforting? During that tragedy, their inherited duty required them to indulge our need to participate in their personal loss. William and Harry weren’t the ones who were entitled in that situation. Weren’t we the ones who felt entitled?
I wonder then if that memory balances out the privileged resentment in this article? Especially when, in the rest of piece, Harry speaks thoughtfully about mental health, about his work with veterans, and about how he’s refocused his life. And we have seen the evidence of that refocus over the last few years in his work with Heads Together and the Invictus Games, in how accessible he seems while representing the Queen, how he’s able to connect with those who have looked to him for support. When you take that comment about the royal burden in the context of the full article, do you still come away with an eyeroll? Or is he still your face?
Click here to read the full Newsweek profile on Prince Harry.
Yours in gossip,