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Is Prince Harry winning?

Is Prince Harry winning?


Prince Harry has made a series of extraordinary claims about the British royal family. But what is he trying to achieve and is he succeeding?

Prince Harry might not like the British press, but he’s given the papers plenty to write about.

“He reveals that he and his brother William wanted to reopen the investigation into the death of his mother Princess Diana.”

Sky News

“Prince Harry also reveals that he and his brother William asked their father Charles not to marry Camilla.”

Sky News

“The Duke of Sussex also claimed he was attacked by Prince William during a row about his wife Meghan.”

Sky News

“Prince Harry also admitted in the book that he killed 25 people during his tour in Afghanistan.”

Sky News

To promote the publication of his memoir, Spare, he gave a series of TV interviews. Most were with US broadcasters and only one was in the UK – with ITV’s Tom Bradby.

For rights reasons we can’t use clips from the interview, so we’ve voiced-up the important bits.

“Going back to the relationship between certain members of the family and the tabloid press, those certain members have decided to get into bed with the devil.”

Harry: The Interview, ITV

Prince Harry said he wanted his book to set the record straight and made repeated references to his mother, Princess Diana, who died in a car crash after being pursued by photographers.

“I don’t want history to repeat itself. I do not want to be a single dad and I certainly don’t want my children to have a life without a mother or a father.”

Harry: The Interview, ITV

He even raised the possibility of reconciliation with his brother, Prince William, and his father, King Charles.

“Forgiveness is 100 per cent a possibility, because I would like to get my father back, I would like to have my brother back.”

Harry: The Interview, ITV

But, at the moment, that feels pretty far away.

“They’ve shown absolutely no willingness to reconcile up until this point.”

Harry: The Interview, ITV

Coming hot on the heels of the Netflix documentary Harry and Meghan, Spare is a warts-and-all account of Prince Harry’s life… from feelings after the death of his mother to the day he lost his virginity.

But the real subtext of the book is an ongoing war… between Prince Harry and the institution he chose to leave. And an attempt by Prince Harry to forge his own future living in a swanky part of California.

So is Prince Harry winning? And what does winning even look like?

Let’s start with the money, because Harry and Meghan’s $15 million Montecito mansion doesn’t pay for itself.

Prince Harry is reportedly being paid between £30 million and £33 million… for a four book deal with Penguin Random House.

That’s on top of the Netflix deal, which is thought to be worth $100 million.

One of his biggest gripes was that he lost his taxpayer funded security when he stepped back from royal duties, so his recent bonanza might help in that regard too.

Then, there is his criticism of the British press.

“He accuses his stepmother of having willingly traded information with journalists in a bid to stop them portraying her as the villain. He said the secret briefings were designed to rehabilitate her image, to smooth her pathway to becoming Queen Consort. But the meetings, in his words, left bodies in the streets.”

Good Morning Britain

Prince Harry’s attacks may be cathartic, but they come with risks.

He’s currently suing the publisher of the Mail on Sunday newspaper. He’s one of a group of high profile figures alleging that they have been, quote, the “victims of abhorrent criminal activity and gross breaches of privacy” by the publisher.

You can imagine the publisher launching a defence that suggests Prince Harry doesn’t actually seem to care all too much about privacy after the revelations in his book.

Finally, there’s another court. The court of public opinion.

And this is the most helpful metric in figuring out whether Prince Harry is winning.

It’s hard to see exactly who Prince Harry is pleasing in the UK with his autobiography and media interviews.

Royalists who don’t think Buckingham Palace is racist will be angered by his claims of unconscious bias in the royal family.

But those who do think the institution is racist could be unhappy too, because Prince Harry thinks that questioning his baby’s skin colour is unconscious bias rather than outright racism. And he defended Lady Susan Hussey, the royal aide who was accused of racism after asking a Black charity boss where she was really from.

But perhaps this is all too inward looking, because this is a narrative aimed at an American audience.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have chosen to live in California and it’s telling that Prince Harry only gave one TV interview in the UK – to a journalist he considers a friend – but several to US networks.

Harry and Meghan have opened themselves up and shown that they care about values important to many younger Americans, and they’ve chosen to tell their story to celebrity American broadcasters – Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper, Stephen Colbert…

“Obviously now, people are very aware of my race because they made it such an issue when I went to the UK. Before that, most people didn’t treat me like a Black woman.”

Meghan Markle, Harry & Meghan, Netflix

All this might turn off Brits, but it goes down well with certain sections of US society.

That, ultimately, is where the couple’s friends, money and future lie.

This episode was written and produced by Xavier Greenwood.