For years, Prince Harry was most people’s favourite royal; he was young, cheeky and handsome, and much like his grandfather Prince Philip, rarely gave a rat’s arse what other people thought of him. He worked with some amazing charities, served with the army and carried out engagements on behalf of the Queen, both on home soil and abroad.
After William married Catherine Middleton in 2011, there were some concerns for the duo — would they be as close? Would Harry feel left out? What would happen now? But as it turned out, there was no reason to fret; the three of them appeared to be a very close, hard-working trio and Harry said multiple times that he thought of Kate as the “big sister he never had”.
Behind closed doors, the public imagined that Harry was just as much, if not more fun, than his public persona; the tabloids regularly papped him falling out of some nightclub or the other (with some woman or the other), and when he wasn’t doing that, he was sloping over to Will and Kate’s apartment to raid their fridge and be “fun uncle Harry” for George and Charlotte.
These days, we are seeing a very different Prince. Now 34 years old, he married last May and he and his wife are expecting their first child in the Spring. It should be a happy time for anybody – newly married and waiting for the arrival of your baby. So it has come as a shock to many then that Harry mostly appears moody, downcast and distracted these days.
Wasn’t this the life he wanted?
After William married Kate, the press and public speculated that Harry would follow suit soon after, even though there was no special woman on the scene at the time. He had split with longtime love Chelsy Davy about a year before his brother’s royal wedding, and with her flat refusal to live within a gilded cage, it quickly became apparent that this was one royal romance that wasn’t going to be rekindled anytime soon.
Not long after, Harry began a two-year relationship with British actress Cressida Bonas, which promptly came to an end after Cressida realised that two years of sleeping with a Prince had gained her sufficient notoriety to venture out confidently into the world of acting, and so off she went. (Harry sure does like actresses looking to level up, doesn’t he?)
People were starting to feel sorry for Harry; he just wasn’t having much luck in the love department and everyone was starting to see him as the ‘third wheel’ in the Cambridges’ marriage. It was clear he was getting a bit lonely and would have liked someone to share royal life and engagements with so that he could branch out and away from William and Catherine – and this would happen in due course, but unfortunately, not only in a professional sense.
With the announcement of his engagement to Meghan Markle in November 2017, (some of) the public rejoiced; Prince Harry was finally going to settle down, make babies and have somebody to be his partner throughout the tedious royal engagements and boring annual horse parades he has had to endure since he was a kid. Hoorah! (Well, almost.)
What I’m sure the Prince didn’t bank on was a wife who would not only join him on royal engagements, but would also completely take over his share of things as well. Having married an actress, Harry now has to put up with a partner who pushes herself to the forefront of everything (sometimes elbowing others out of the way as she does it) and blatantly demands to be the center of attention at all times. At the moment (God save us all) Markle the Martyr is pregnant, so we are also having to witness daily helpings of her squeezing the life out of her baby bump, as she tries so desperately to command the attention of those around her — all while Harry looks on with a gormless expression, usually appearing as though he has smoked a joint before showing up that day – (maybe Meghan had some left over from her last wedding?)
Even a solo engagement to the England vs. France rugby match earlier this month couldn’t get Hooray-less Henry to raise a smile. I looked at the photos of him first before the final match score and assumed England had lost and the whole team had died, judging by how utterly miserable he looked. But no – England had beaten France. Badly. 44-8. And Harry still looked like he was re-attending his mother’s funeral.
It must also stem from the fact that most of the time now, he does look as though he would be better suited to being a lady-in-waiting for his wife, rather than a royal Duke. Trailing behind her, adjusting her dress when it shifts unpleasantly over her awkward-looking bump and holding her clutch when required, which no doubt contains the testicles he lost some time ago. When he is spoken to, he looks distracted and only manages half a smile most of the time – almost as though he has spotted a UFO in the distance and is trying to work out how to board it and start a new life on another planet, rather than focusing on the matter at hand.
Then there are the rumours that it could be a new diet that has him looking so downcast; it’s been reported that wife Meghan, a dedicated vegan (sometimes, when she feels like it), has her hapless husband following the same dietary regime – (It’s all quinoa and kale smoothies over at Chez Sussex, y’all!). In another shocking article not long ago, it was reported that Meghan has banned Hazza from smoking and drinking alcohol, tea and coffee as well, which I must admit, had me rather baffled – I wasn’t aware there were other beverages to consume besides those, and as Harry was known for enjoying a cigarette, I’ll bet he’s like a viper waiting to strike most of the time these days. I also wasn’t aware Harry was the one who was pregnant and had to give up so much, but maybe there’s something I’m missing.
And what about his relationship with the Cambridges? Well, that seems somewhat dead in the water now too. Harry and William are barely ever in public with each other anymore, and when they are, they don’t make eye contact at all. Harry and Meghan are due to move to Windsor soon and then the split of the offices will happen – with the Cambridges remaining in Kensington and the Sussexes team providing them support as they live out in Frogmore Cottage; a move by the palace that hadn’t even been thought of in the near eight years since the Cambridges married, but is now suddenly on the cards once Meghan has come onto the scene.
I do have to say, the one thing I find to be the saddest is the obvious breakdown between William and Harry. As far as siblings go, they only have each other– and losing their mother at such young ages must have brought them really close together as they muddled through their grief– I can only imagine how devastated Diana would be if she were here today, to see her only two children barely on speaking terms anymore, and moving as far apart from each other as they possibly can within the confines of the crown.
I know, the Meghan Marvellers are ready with their pitchforks: “Harry and William are still as close as ever… Yes, it’s normal to grow apart once you marry…. Catherine and Meghan love each other tonnes” yada, yada, yada. Well, I’m sorry to say that I don’t think any of those statements are even slightly accurate.
If Harry and William were going to grow apart, they likely would’ve done so when Kate and Wills married– they didn’t, because even prior to her marriage, Catherine was well-known in the palace, had a great relationship with Harry and she clearly didn’t see the need to drive a wedge between her husband and brother-in-law. Up until Harry and Meghan married, the Cambridges and Sussexes were amicable in public and seemed to get along okay– it was only after the wedding that things seemed to grow more tense.
Many are arguing that Harry and William are still a-okay, but just leading separate lives now that they are both married with kids; sure– that might be the case, but not one I am inclined believe.
For a trio that were once really close, it seems strange they are hardly ever in public with each other anymore, and do not appear to interact on the rare occasion when they are. For Christmas in 2017, a month after Harry and Meghan’s engagement was announced, things seemed to still be ok; the newly-engaged couple stayed for a few days at Anmer Hall with William, Kate and their kids, which is the Cambridges’ home on the Sandringham Estate. Kate was five months pregnant with Louis at the time, and they all seemed jovial on their walk to church together– nothing about their interactions seemed contrived or put-on.
Cut to Christmas 2018, Meghan’s first as an official member of the family, and the picture is really very different. Rumours of a feud between Kate and Meghan plagued the headlines for months before Christmas, and then it is announced that Harry and Meghan this time were staying in the main house at Sandringham, rather than at Anmer Hall with the Cambridges. I understand Louis had arrived by this time, but he is one small baby and Anmer Hall boasts ten bedrooms, so I doubt it was a case of not being able to find the room to put Harry and his missus up.
The walk to church is very clearly a PR stunt and one designed to convince the public that the “fab four” are indeed just that, despite the frostiness between the Wales brothers and the over-the-top actions from Meghan towards the Duchess of Cambridge, with all her fake laughter and touching Kate’s back at one point as well. Even pantomimes are more convincing than that display was.
Then there is the bigger item to look at: the Cambridges weren’t even meant to be at Sandringham last year. Carole Middleton had let slip during an interview in late November that she was gearing up for Christmas with all three of her children, their partners and the grandkids– George and Charlotte were even going to have their own Christmas trees in their respective rooms to decorate themselves… So this only means one thing: the Cambridges were forced to change their Christmas plans at the last minute to diffuse the feud rumours between the Duchesses. I can imagine the Duchess of Cambridge was pretty fucked off with that one; not only was it Prince Louis’s first Christmas, but it was also that of Pippa’s new baby, Arthur– the Middletons were clearly looking forward to spending Christmas together, and at the last minute, their plans were shattered, thanks to Meghan– providing another reason for Kate to staple Meghan’s face to her dart board in the royal drawing room at Kensington Palace.
So to summarise, what do I think is the real story? Well, I do think most of what has hit the headlines has been the truth.
I do believe William warned Harry off Meghan in the first instance; on Kate and William’s wedding day in 2011, during their carriage procession from the Abbey to Buckingham Palace, one royal commentator described William as “astute” and said that he had “always spotted people a mile off who were approaching him and wanting to be his friend for all the wrong reasons”– and I think that definitely applies here.
William definitely saw Meghan for what she likely is: fame-hungry, desperate for attention and arrives with an agenda tucked under her arm. Harry, having finally found a woman who jumped at the chance of wearing a tiara, likely crapped all over his big brother’s opinion because he didn’t want to believe what he was saying (“let me make my own mistakes, yah?”) and proceeded to marry Meghan anyway, resulting in radio silence from the Cambridges. No longer does Harry refer to his nephews and niece in the same affectionate way he used to: in fact, he never discusses them at all now, has never even made reference to Louis’s existence and looked like he had a rod firmly up his arse during Louis’s christening last summer, which appears to be his default expression these days.
You could almost feel sorry for Harry; he had a long string of girlfriends who dated him for a bit and then realised they didn’t want to be a Princess, which must have been crushing to him. He was in his early 30s, desperate for a family, and wasn’t prepared to wait around for much longer. Why wouldn’t he be annoyed at his brother breezing through with a reality check and destroying his illusion of a wife and kids? But sadly, this is the one person in the universe he’d have done well to listen to. As the future King, William has likely dealt with his fair share of wannabe Princesses and fake friends– he had the best tools out of anyone to advise Harry clearly for the path ahead, especially without mum Diana in the picture to do so– but what do you do when the person you’re trying to help doesn’t want to listen to reason?
Do I think it’s weird that William still served as Best Man at Harry’s wedding? No, I don’t. At the end of the day, they are still brothers and I still think things were on a fairly even keel even up until just before the wedding, so there was no reason for Wills to refuse.
I have a younger brother too, and while I may not always approve of his dating choices, I wouldn’t avoid his wedding if he married somebody I did not think was right for him. He is still my brother and I would still be there to support him– even if I didn’t agree with him. It’s what siblings do.
I suspect, in part, the fall-out between the brothers is due to William being hurt by his brother’s ignorance and blatant disregard for his advice, as well as Harry probably realising by now that William may have actually been right about Meghan, but is too stubborn to swallow his pride and admit it. At this point, or in the near future, the Cambridges should probably be rolling their eyes at Harry and telling him “we told you so”– but the inevitable fall-out of the Sussex marriage and the hurricane that will follow — will no doubt speak for itself.