Like Hamlet, the Duke of Sussex is the epitome of the tortured ruler. But as long as he remains an active imperial, he can never sidestep 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 used the media – his friend Tom Bradby’s ITV documentary Harry& Meghan: An African Journey – to discuss his fierce feelings about the media.

That circular advance words the perimeter of the hole in which the 35 -year-old prince encounters himself caught. He feels surrounded by the same obtrusive 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 look on primetime television.

Are his ailments legitimate or a case study in the kind of spoilt privilege that is normally filed under the phrase” first-world questions “? Certainly the dubious optics of discussing his own fights against the distressing backdrop of African deprivation did not go unnoticed by his commentators. 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 etiquette. 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 capacity, a wayward but essentially amiable young bloke who seemed to react to his weighty birthright with an irrepressible impulse for disobedience. But more recently, his anguished ruminations have suggested another Shakespearean hero- Hamlet, the crucified sovereign who wants to avenge the deaths among a parent.

To hear him speak in Bradby’s film, and surely to watch his body language, was to see a gentleman who, at least by his own light-coloreds, was taking up forearms against a sea of troubles.

” Part of this profession ,” he told Bradby,” and part of any undertaking, like everybody, is putting on a brave face and turning a neck to a lot of the stuff, but again, for me and again for my wife, of course there is a lot of substance that hurts, especially when the majority of it is untrue. But all we need to do is focus on being real, and are concentrated on being the people that we are, and studying up for what we believes in .”

It may not have been a soaring soliloquy with an innate learn of poetic metre, and you feel Harry has expended more experience decipher self-help books than the Bard, but it was clearly heartfelt and it carried perhaps the only good admonition given by Polonius, the manager counsellor in Hamlet: to thine own self 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 fulfill, 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 established an interview in which he said:” I’m never was just going to … persuade the general public of who I am or what I want them to think I am, because my image is always being drawn 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 deliberately falsified remains unchanged. This gumption of being made a caricature is an issue, he has said, that also aggrieved “his fathers”- in Prince Charles’s case as a hapless and ineffectual meddler. It’s not hard to imagine that Charles’s obvious fury 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 emcee comes to depend. If their visits, deliveries 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 luminary 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 famed adage about not telling in “daylight upon magic”. But that era has passed, even though they are the Queen lives on. Harry’s mothers both appeared on television in separate discussions among their adultery. His uncle, a friend of a convicted paedophile, has been accused of sleeping with a trafficked teen, accusations that have been strongly repudiated. The royal curtains ought to have irreversibly opened.

Diana was said to have been a ” modernising ” force on the starchy ways and means to the Windsors. The” people’s princess” bring a populist signature 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 sentiment. His mother died in a automobile clang under pursuit from paparazzi when he was just 12. But it’s hard to think what other competition is open for a royal who wants to maintain a high profile.

Harry’s spouse, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, has suffer of the Hollywood kind of celebrity, a organization controlled by pitiless publicists producing stage-managed interviews. Harmonizing to a CNN report, based on” a source close to the Sussexes”, she seems to have guessed she could play a role in reforming an outmoded institution to harness the “value” of a pair that has ” single-handedly modernised the monarchy “.

Harry
Harry and Meghan at the WellChild Awards in London this month. Photograph: Rex/ Shutterstock

That kind of saw approaching to image-maintenance may work with Vanity Fair but it’s not going to play in a tabloid world in which off-the-record briefings and forthright minds are the lifeblood of imperial coverage. In that situation, it’s impossible to suppress legends about tensions between Harry and two brothers, or accusations of hypocrisy for campaigning on climate change while flying in private jet-blacks.

Yet Harry and his wife do have a large amount of public goodwill, regardless of their battle with the press that produced Harry earlier this month to sue the Daily Mirror and the Sun , and his wife to sue the Mail on Sunday . As a mixed-race couple, this constitutes a refreshing break with the prejudices of the past.

Moreover Harry, like his mother, has a winning personal touch with ordinary people. An manager at the Children’s Society says that he recently did some work with the donation in which he charmed everyone he dealt with.

Dylan Jones, the writer of GQ , says he’s met the prince several times and ever detected him” approachable, funny, engaging and whip-smart “. He recalls a photo conference in which David Bailey was on confrontational sort, but Harry managed to win the banter contest.

” He doesn’t suffer chumps gladly ,” says Jones,” but then why should he? He’s always come across as a manager .”

Perhaps his greatest strength, at this particular juncture in record, is his vulnerability. By coming forward a couple of years ago to discuss his mental health problems, he sounded with a younger generation enthusiastic to normalise the issue of mental illness. He spoke of how he closed down his spirits for 20 times after his mother died, and how he consulted a therapist.

As someone who not only lost his mother at a tender age but likewise, are in accordance with his own evidence, killed enemy soldiers in Afghanistan, he has a lot of haunting know-hows to resolve. It doesn’t help, of course, to be doing it under onrush from a hostile media. Harry strongly implied to Bradby that his pitch-dark daylights had returned.

If that is the case, he has two options. The first is to develop a zen-like indifference to the speculation and disapproval that their own lives as a leading royal renders. To suffer, in other words, the straps and arrows of outrageous luck. The other to assist them revive” the Firm” by cutting back on its numbers. He could take the large fortune he has, withdraw from public life, and devote himself to the good causes of his choice.

That way he and his wife can live rather than, as she puts it, “exist”. To be or to thrive: that is the royal question the celebrity ruler must face.

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