SARAH VINE: Is there a Plan B for Prince Harry?
SARAH VINE: Sorry, Harry, the one reason America cared about you was because you were part of the Royal Family. Is there a Plan B?
One can’t help feeling that Prince Harry’s ghostwriter, J.R. Moehringer, was speaking for all of us when this week he revealed his exasperation at having to deal with Prince Harry’s edits to his memoir, Spare.
‘My head was pounding, my jaw was clenched and I was starting to raise my voice,’ admits the Pulitzer prize-winning author.
The Prince, meanwhile, ‘was no longer saying anything. He was just glaring into the camera’ (presumably they were on a Zoom call).
They were arguing over a passage in the book where the Duke relates how, during military training, he was ‘captured’ by colleagues playing the role of terrorists.
As part of the exercise, the soldiers screamed insults at him, including a vile dig at his mother, the late Princess Diana.
King Charles, Queen Camilla, Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, watch as the coffin of the late Queen Elizabeth II arrives at Wellington Arch from Westminster Abbey on September 19, 2022 in London
The Prince wanted to include his own comeback — not because, as Moehringer explained, it added anything to the story, but because Harry thought it made him look clever.
All his life, Harry explained, he had felt belittled by people questioning his intelligence. This incident, he felt, would prove them wrong. But Moehringer insisted on keeping it out: in his view it was ‘unnecessary, and somewhat inane’.
The episode speaks volumes about Prince Harry and his behaviour not only towards his ghostwriter, but also towards everyone around him — and they are legion — who has ever tried to protect him from himself.
On this occasion, Moehringer’s judgment prevailed. But there have been countless times where Harry’s petulance and stubbornness have won the day, where those less confident, more easily intimidated — or just perhaps generally more in awe of his royal status — have given in.
Old school pals, former Army colleagues, friends of the family, people he grew up around who have loved him since he was a little boy. Mere observers, such as myself. And, of course, members of his own family.
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies at Crypto.com Arena on April 24, 2023
All of us, exasperated by Harry’s destructive — and self-destructive — behaviour. Individuals, old and young, who have tried at various times to talk some sense into him, to save him from himself — and who appear to have been systematically shut out of his life, as if punished for daring to contradict his increasingly toxic and paranoid narrative.
And where has it got him? Up a creek without a paddle, that’s where. Because if the Coronation showed us anything at all about the future of the Royal Family, it’s that Harry is not in any meaningful sense a part of it.
In just a few short years, he has gone from being the adored younger son to a scowling and irrelevant presence.
With his grandmother no longer around to keep the peace, it’s remarkable how quickly the royal waters have closed over him, washing away every trace of the glittering future that was once his.
He cut a terribly sad figure at the Abbey — arriving alone, in a Dior suit which had clearly not been properly pressed. That’s another disadvantage of being a ‘civilian’: no valet. And the Duchess had obviously forgotten to pack the portable iron.
Obscured for much of the proceedings by Princess Anne’s magnificent red plume, when Harry was in view he seemed glum and downcast. A lip-reader spotted him telling Jack Brooksbank, husband of Princess Eugenie, that he was ‘fed up’, although whether that related to the event itself or life in general is unclear.
Saturday, 10.45am: Prince Harry looks on during his father’s Coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey. He was relegated to the third row, behind many other senior royals
Barely anyone acknowledged his presence, and both his father and elder brother seemed to ignore him. He played no part in subsequent celebrations, arriving at Heathrow for his flight back to the U.S. not long after the King’s golden coach had pulled into the courtyard of Buckingham Palace.
While his brother’s three children stole the show, Harry’s two were thousands of miles away, denied their place in history.
Quite apart from the personal tragedy of the situation, it inevitably raises the question of where Prince Harry goes from here.
He still has two books to deliver as part of his multi-million-pound deal with Penguin Random House. But what is there left for him to say?
As the Duchess of Sussex’s children’s book and podcast proved, there is little appetite beyond the couple’s sycophantic cheerleaders for the worthy, anodyne, virtue-signalling stuff.
People want the dirt — that’s what sells. But dishing more of it will only distance him even further from the Royal Family — and, ultimately, from the source of his rapidly diminishing star power.
Because what Prince Harry seems to have overlooked in his grand masterplan is that his principle currency, the reason anyone took any interest in him in the first place, was his association with the very thing he has tried to destroy: the British Monarchy.
By deliberately detaching himself from the institution, and doing so with such spite, he has fatally undermined his USP. No longer happy-go-lucky Harry but a bitter and brittle Haz-been.
Saturday, 2pm: Prince Harry is seen arriving at the Windsor Suite at Heathrow Airport having departed the Coronation service
Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. And he wonders why people question his intelligence.
While his elder brother, William, matures into his new role as Prince of Wales, his consummately professional wife by his side, Harry now faces re-inventing himself in a vacuum.
Two more books, and then what? Scraping around for other schemes to bring in cash to pay for the estate and security? Approaching middle age with no pension pot, no health insurance (you really don’t want to get ill in California without it) and nothing to flog apart from his regrets?
The worst part is that he’s really burnt his bridges with his brother who, let’s face it, is going to be in charge of what remaining largesse the Royal Family possesses after King Charles has finished paying back all those reparations for Empire that he seems so keen to address. Again, perhaps not the smartest of moves.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Harry will live happily and prosperously ever after in his bubble of American psycho-waffle, saving rhinos and making worthy documentaries about cultural appropriation in the Andes, or whatever latest fashionable cause crosses his hand-carved, reclaimed driftwood desk.
But if he had just stopped for a second and listened more, he could still have done all that — and more — while also enjoying the love, friendship and support of his family, as well as the British people.
Not to mention, of course, having someone to steam his suits properly.
Eurovision’s Mae hits wrong note
The Corbynista cheerleader selected by the BBC to represent Britain at the Eurovision Song Contest this weekend has said she is applying for a German passport so she can live in Spain.
Mae Muller, 25, once tweeted ‘I hate this country’, and she slammed Boris Johnson for ‘taking up a bed’ when he was severely ill with Covid.
Mae Muller seemed in high spirits as she stepped onto the red carpet at the Opening Ceremony of the 67th annual Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool on Sunday
She is apparently eligible to apply for German citizenship thanks to her Jewish grandfather, who fled Nazi Germany for the safety of Britain, escaping the Holocaust.
No offence intended, but isn’t it a little ungrateful to ‘hate’ the country that saved your grandfather’s life?
Royals’ top guns
It may come as a relief to the wife of the King’s equerry, Major Jonathan Thompson, that he has some competition. Namely the Queen’s squire, Rifles Major Ollie Plunket and Lieut Cmdr Rob Dixon, equerry to the Prince and Princess of Wales. Forget Take That at Windsor Castle: those three are the ultimate military boy-band.
Major Jonathan Thompson is pictured at the 2023 Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in March
The most salient detail in ex-No.10 communications chief Guto Harri’s revelations about the King and ex-PM Boris Johnson’s falling out over the Government’s Rwanda policy is that the former was furious with the latter for arriving late to a meeting.
Likewise, at his Coronation, Charles III was kept waiting at the entrance to the Abbey, berating some poor lackey that ‘we can never be on time’.
In my experience, there are two types of people: those who wait and those who keep others waiting. As the former, I share the King’s frustrations.
The world is full of people who think their lives are more important than everyone else’s. And not even being King can save you from them.
I’m sorry, but someone has to say it. The King’s purple tabard, which he wore after the Coronation and which features in the official photographs: is it just me, or was it a shade too Cadbury’s Dairy Milk for the occasion?
There’s a fine line between being on point and panto. Talking of which, buckles with dress trousers? No wonder the late Queen’s dresser, Angela Kelly, wasn’t invited — she’d never have let that slide.
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