| 7.3°C Belfast


Sarah Caden: Prince Harry needs to calm down if he wants a quieter future

By Sarah Caden


Harry and Meghan may have left their royal duties behind but they still face many challenges, says Sarah Caden

Close

Prince Harry speaking to guests at The Ivy Chelsea Garden last Sunday

Prince Harry speaking to guests at The Ivy Chelsea Garden last Sunday

Getty Images for Sentebale

Prince Harry speaking to guests at The Ivy Chelsea Garden last Sunday

When he stood up to speak in front of the crowd dining at The Ivy Chelsea Garden last Sunday, Harry knew he was facing friends. He said so in his speech, at an event to support Sentebale, the charity he set up in 2006 with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho, to support vulnerable children, particularly those with HIV, in that country.

It was, he noted, an effort to honour the legacy of his late mother, whom many in the room knew well. And they knew Harry well. He mentioned how they'd watched him grow from child to man, how they'd supported him in his grief after Diana's death and how they had, when Meghan arrived in his life, welcomed her "with open arms".

Unlike others, he did not add. He didn't need to. We got the message. We've been getting it for a while now - directed at the public, directed at the media, directed even at his family.

It seemed, however, that in deciding to step back from their senior-royal roles, and, furthermore, being graciously allowed to by his grandmother, Harry and Meghan had achieved what they wanted. Harry could rejoin his wife and child in Canada and they could start afresh. It was all good.

Harry had never enjoyed the royal life, it was said, and Meghan was merely the catalyst for his casting aside of it. The royals, publicly at least, were compassionate and understanding, albeit firm that they couldn't be HRH or benefit from the public coffers any more.

But that was all grand, because Charles gave Harry millions annually from his own Duchy of Cornwall monies and as for the massive security bill, well, that would have to be paid by either the UK or Canada, as to leave the pair unprotected is not an option.

Harry and Meghan, by most normal person's standards, were doing pretty well on the Megxit deal.

What Harry made clear last Sunday, however, is that he's not entirely happy.

"What I want to make clear is we're not walking away," he said, "and we certainly aren't walking away from you. Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the Commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn't possible.

"I've accepted this, knowing that it doesn't change who I am or how committed I am," he continued. "But I hope that helps you understand what it had come to, that I would step my family back from all I have ever known, to take a step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life."

Megxit isn't the happy place Harry imagined. He holds on to the hope of a more peaceful life, but by last Sunday, at least, it wasn't any less complicated. There hadn't, perhaps, been enough love for Megxit.

There had been too much criticism. The mutterings about who was going to keep their show on the road had built in volume rather than faded away.

And Harry, as has become characteristic, couldn't just calm down and carry on. Harry had to get his displeasure off his chest. He had to let it be known that the Megxit deal wasn't his ideal.

So he stood up in front of a well-disposed crowd, one he knew would applaud his sentiments, but he knew, too, that his speech would reach a wider, unseen audience too.

And, for that matter, his family, who have kept quiet on this affair, aside from the Queen's formal, but warm statement, on the matter.

There was a degree of immaturity on display in Harry's expressed displeasure. Perhaps it was simply the fact that he had to express it that seemed petulant, but it bode ill for this peaceful future he desires, and causes one to wonder just what kind of universal warm embrace lies ahead for him.

It's no-holds-barred now on the kind of footage we saw everywhere last week, of Harry and Meghan joshing with Disney director Jon Favreau about giving her work on his films. "That's why we're really here," Meghan joked, at The Lion King premiere last summer, while in the background, Beyonce, no stranger to self-publicity, looked mortified by their clumsiness.

If this is a taste of how they will live a self-supporting peaceful life, one dreads to think of the hot water they will end up in. And all without the security of royal status.

They might have found that life stifling, but it had its safety, too, in the shape of income whether you worked or not and nice big homes to hide away in when the going gets tough.

Vancouver Island, where Harry and Meghan are currently holed up, is a rarified and enclosed community. It's far from the real world and, one can be sure, they will never truly inhabit the real world the rest of us know. But it is exceptionally insulating, which may be what Harry claims to seek, though that does not tally with their efforts to trademark Sussex Royal and launch themselves as a brand.

Also, even on Vancouver Island and while Harry was still in London, Meghan got papped. She was photographed in a Canadian public park, holding baby Archie in a sling, walking the dogs, two security guards walking behind her - one UK - and one Canadian-funded, apparently.

Canadian reports of whether this was how they wanted to treat the couple, as their adopted nation, quoted the photographer as saying that Meghan saw him snapping, made eye contact and gave him a smile. Certainly, some of the shots testify to that, but later it was reported that Harry and Meghan's lawyers had issued a warning over such uninvited and intrusive photography.

Whether they can really stop this happening is debatable. The real world is hard to control, much like Meghan's father Thomas, who has now made a documentary replete with family photos of his daughter as a child, with complaints about her abandonment of him and with gripes about her in-laws, whom he's never met.

When Harry spoke last Sunday night, he referred only to his royal unhitching, which, he made obvious was far from the perfect conscious uncoupling he had hoped. The quitting was their choice, the rest was beyond their control. And try as he and Meghan might, that control may slip further yet.

Belfast Telegraph