Harry and Meghan ‘must give up their titles’

Anger: Aides said Harry’s 'disgraceful' podcast has left royal family 'bewildered and betrayed'. © Getty

Is Prince Harry wrong to criticise the Royal Family? Yesterday senior courtiers were reported calling for the Duke and Duchess to give up their titles after criticism of Prince Charles.

Prince Harry has had many roles in life.

He was the traumatised boy who walked behind his mother’s coffin. He was the heroic army captain who flew helicopters over the skies of Afghanistan. He was the royal wild child who spent his twenties partying in Las Vegas.

Now, Harry has a new role: father. And, he says, he is determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

In an explosive new interview, the Duke linked his struggles in life to the way he was brought up by his father, Prince Charles.

“I don’t think we should be pointing the finger or blaming anybody,” Harry told podcast host Dax Shepard last week. “But certainly when it comes to parenting, if I’ve experienced some form of pain or suffering because of the pain or suffering that perhaps my father or my parents had suffered, I’m going to make sure I break that cycle so that I don’t pass it on.”

Speaking from his adopted hometown of Los Angeles, Harry discussed his slow realisation that his upbringing had been shaped by his father’s own experiences as a child.

“I started to piece it together and go ‘okay, so this is where he went to school, this is what happened, I know about his life, I also know that is connected to his parents so that means he’s treated me the way he was treated, so how can I change that for my own kids?’”

Across the Atlantic in Britain, newspaper columnists reacted with apoplectic fury. “Just how low can Harry go?” asked the front page of the Daily Mail.

“You might expect a scintilla of restraint, maybe the tiniest bit of respect for his granny and her feelings,” wrote journalist Sarah Vine. “But no.”

“For a guy who craves privacy, Prince Harry sure is yapping a lot about his private life,” declared pundit Piers Morgan.

One thing is clear: 2021 has been a difficult year for the British monarchy. In March, the Royals were left reeling after Harry and Meghan accused the family of racism on US television. Then, a month later, Prince Philip died, leaving the Queen to sit alone at her husband’s funeral.

Now, Harry’s latest interview, in which he described royal life as “a mixture between The Truman Show and being in a zoo” and accused both his father and the Queen of poor parenting, has put the family back into the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Yet not everyone agrees with Piers Morgan and Sarah Vine’s assessment of Harry.

American psychologist John Duffy believes the Prince is a role model: “Harry’s emotional expression could encourage men and boys to open up as well, and to reframe our definition of masculinity.”

In the UK, the podcast’s release coincided with Mental Health Awareness Week. Each year in England, one in four people will experience a mental health problem.

“Hearing someone like Prince Harry discuss the ways in which empathy, compassion, self-awareness (and therapy) have helped him deal with his emotions is a breath of fresh air,” says writer Victoria Richards. “In my opinion, Harry’s nailed it.”

Is Prince Harry wrong to criticise the Royal Family?

Royal rift

Yes, say some. The Duke’s comments about his father and grandparents were completely uncalled for. It has been less than two months since his grandfather passed away. Many of the struggles he described are likely a result of the pressures of being in the public eye, not bad parenting. And if Harry truly wants privacy in his new Californian home, he should stop giving intimate public interviews.

No, say others. Prince Harry is not blaming his father for the problems he has faced in life, but rather speaking candidly about how trauma and hurt can be passed on from one generation to another. By being open about his mental health in public, Harry is breaking down toxic traditions and setting an example for young people everywhere. The Royal Family could learn from his approach.

You Decide

  1. Is Prince Harry a good role model?
  2. Are the Sussexes still relevant now that they are no longer senior royals?

Activities

  1. In small groups, write a scene from a play about a royal feud. Then perform the scene for the rest of the class.
  2. Hold a class debate on the motion: “There is no place for royalty in the 21st Century.”

Some People Say...

“Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them.”

Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900), Irish poet and playwright

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
It is generally agreed that Prince Charles once had a strained relationship with his own parents, in particular his father Prince Philip. Charles described Philip as “harsh” and “hectoring”. In turn, Philip said that he and his son “saw things differently”. Now, Prince Charles has a difficult relationship with his son, Prince Harry. In an interview with US television personality Oprah in March, Harry accused his father of failing to pick up his calls and said he felt “let down”.
What do we not know?
One main area of debate surrounds how the public will react to Prince Harry’s latest interview. In the US, where Harry and Meghan now live with their son Archie, the media coverage of the couple has been broadly positive. Michelle Obama, Beyonce and even White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki have all applauded Meghan for speaking about mental health in the past. But in the UK, Prince Harry’s net favourability rating fell to -3 following the couple’s Oprah interview.

Word Watch

Dax Shepard
American actor Shepard hosts the Armchair Expert podcast alongside Monica Padman. Shepard is “fascinated by the messiness of being human”.
School
Prince Charles described Gordounston, the Scottish boarding school he was sent to by his father, as “Colditz in kilts”.
Apoplectic
Overcome with anger. The word originates from a Greek phrase meaning “disabled by a stroke”.
Scintilla
A tiny trace. Scintilla was originally a Latin word meaning “spark”.
Racism
The Duchess of Sussex told US media mogul Oprah Winfrey that a member of the Royal Family had expressed concerns about how dark their son’s skin colour might be.
Alone
Due to coronavirus restrictions, the 30 mourners at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral had to sit in household bubbles.
The Truman Show
A 1998 film in which a man discovers he is living in a reality television show.

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