Like Hamlet, the Duke of Sussex is the epitome of the tortured monarch. But as long as he remains an active imperial, he can never evade the media spotlight
To be or not to be an active royal, that is the question raised last week on behalf of Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. It was aired by a concerned media after Harry employed the media – his friend Tom Bradby’s ITV documentary Harry& Meghan: An African Journey – to discuss his fierce feelings about the media.
That circular progression structures the perimeter of the hole in which the 35 -year-old prince acquisitions himself captured. He feels surrounded by the same intrusive lenses he accuses for his mother’s death and, like Diana, Princess of Wales, he has tried to break free from them with an psychological form on primetime television.
Are his objections legitimate or a case study in the kind of spoilt privilege that is normally filed under the phrase” first-world troubles “? Certainly the questionable optics of consideration of his own contends against the lamentable backdrop of African deprivation did not go unnoticed by his pundits. Nevertheless, what seems beyond doubt is that Harry is a genuinely disturbed soul, a 21 st-century tortured prince.
For many years he was known as the fun-loving brother, a walking-talking-drinking threat to stately protocol. If you were looking for one of the Queen’s grandchildren to be photographed playing naked billiards with a woman in Las Vegas or wearing a swastika armband at a fancy-dress party, then Harry was your man.
He was Prince Hal, the riotous imperial without a character, a wayward but essentially likable young bloke who seemed to react to his weighty birthright with an irrepressible inclination for insurrection. But more recently, his anguished ruminations suggests that another Shakespearean hero- Hamlet, the plagued lord who wants to avenge the death of a parent.
To hear him speak in Bradby’s film, and certainly to watch his body language, was to see a humanity who, at least by his own suns, was taking up forearms against a sea of troubles.
” Part of this position ,” he told Bradby,” and one of the purposes of any activity, like everybody, is putting on a brave face and turning a cheek to a lot of the stuff, but again, for me and again for my partner, of course there is a lot of stuff that hurts, especially when the majority of it is untrue. But all we need to do is focus on being real, and concentrating on being the people that we are, and studying up for what we believe in .”
It may not have been a soaring soliloquy with an innate known of lyrical metre, and you sense Harry has expended more hour construe self-help books than the Bard, but it was clearly heartfelt and it conveyed perhaps the only good admonition given by Polonius, the premier counsellor in Hamlet: to thine own soul be true.
But who is Harry? One of the things that the man who is sixth in line to the throne has always spotted difficult to accept is that millions of strangers, people he’s never meet, feel as if they know who he is and are therefore in a position to pass judgment on him.
When he was 21 and a cadet at Sandhurst, he handed an interview in which he said:” I’m never going to see … reassure the public of who I am or what I want them to think I am, because my persona is always being portrayed as something else. I don’t want to change. I am who I am. I’m not going to change because I’m being criticised in the press .”
Though he is older and wiser, the conviction that he is routinely and intentionally misinterpreted remains unchanged. This sense of being made a caricature is an issue, he has said, that also aggrieved his father- in Prince Charles’s case as a hapless and ineffectual busybody. It’s not hard to be thought that Charles’s obvious rancor of the media has helped inform his youngest son’s suspicions.
The problem is that the media are vital to the monarchy’s survival, like a parasite on which the host comes to depend. If their visits, births and marries ceased to be the subject of media attention, they would sink into irrelevance. Royalty- the idea of a superior bloodline- is a dying anachronism, but fame is alive and flourishing.
The Queen will quite likely prove to be the last monarch to retain a regal interval from the outside world. She is the embodiment of Walter Bagehot’s far-famed axiom about not telling in “daylight upon magic”. But that age has passed, even though it is the Queen lives on. Harry’s mothers both appeared on television in separate discussions among their adultery. His uncle, a friend of a imprisoned paedophile, has been accused of sleeping with a trafficked teen, accusations that have been strongly repudiated. The imperial curtains ought to have irreversibly opened.
Diana was said to have been a ” modernising ” force on the starchy ways of the Windsors. The” people’s princess” fetch a populist stroke to the dutiful business of photo opportunity. She was a democratising force, even if her approach was not always appreciated by the royal household.
Harry told Bradby that he wouldn’t be” bullied into playing the game that killed my mum “. It’s an understandable sentimentality. His mother died in a gondola accident under pursuing from paparazzi when he was just 12. But it’s hard to think what other recreation is available to a imperial who wants to maintain a high profile.
Harry’s partner, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, has know-how of the Hollywood kind of celebrity, a plan controlled under merciless publicists developing stage-managed interviews. Harmonizing to a CNN report, based on” a source close to the Sussexes”, she appeared to have speculated she could play a role in reforming an outmoded institution to harness the “value” of a duo that has ” single-handedly modernised the monarchy “.