Who will begrudge them the chance to be happy? Prince Harry didn’t ask to be born a royal, and his life of privilege has come at a price can’t bear, writes the Prince’s biographer PENNY JUNOR
Whatever your view about the rights and wrongs of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to abandon their royal lives – and duties – there are not many people, I would hope, who will begrudge this young family the chance to be happy.
Harry didn’t ask to be born a royal and while his life has been privileged, it has come at a price he has found too much to bear.
Some may marvel at that, but until you have walked in another man’s shoes, it is impossible to know how they feel – and dangerous to make assumptions. Only the Queen and other members of the family can fully appreciate Harry’s predicament.
Whatever your view about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex there are not many people, I would hope, who will begrudge this young family the chance to be happy
In her statement released on Saturday evening, Her Majesty seemed to be genuinely sympathetic to his plight. The Sussexes are going with her blessing and her thanks for ‘all their dedicated work across the country, Commonwealth and beyond’.
‘Harry, Meghan and Archie,’ she said, ‘will always be much-loved members of my family’. She also added that she was ‘particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family’. That is a friendly and generous thing to say when she is on the brink of losing (and that is how it must feel) her beloved grandson.
In my view, these words – and the deal for Harry and Meghan’s future – are exactly what was needed to avert a serious crisis for the monarchy and Britain.
The couple’s announcement that they were leaving was a bombshell. The Queen was right to insist a solution be found quickly.
Before a deal was even announced, I noticed Harry’s smile was back in place when he appeared as patron of the Rugby Football League to host the draw for the 2021 World Cup at Buckingham Palace last Thursday.
Meanwhile, 4,500 miles away, Meghan – wrapped up against the bitter Canadian winter, and back in her trademark jeans – is looking happy again, too. She’s back in her comfort zone.
The good news is they are not burning any bridges.
I can’t think that anyone in the Royal Family is kicking their heels with joy, and I am certain that Prince Charles never envisioned a ‘slimmed-down monarchy’ as skeletal as it will be without the Sussexes. Harry and Meghan’s absence will impact hugely on Charles and Camilla, now both in their seventies, as well as William and Kate and their young family. They will all have a far more onerous load to share. But, publicly at least, they are putting a brave face on it.
In her statement released on Saturday evening, Her Majesty seemed to be genuinely sympathetic to Prince Harry’s plight
The Sussexes will depart with the support and understanding of the whole family. This will please those, particularly the young, who thought it right that Harry and Meghan put their personal happiness and that of their son Archie first.
The Sussexes are not going to give up their patronages and associations, which will come as a huge relief to their charities. This is the area in which both Harry and Meghan truly excel – philanthropy was one of the things that brought them together in the first place.
The couple have not got off scot-free, however. They will not be able to carry out royal duties, as they had hoped. They must ‘step back’ from these, including official military appointments, which I imagine will be a genuine sadness for a prince whose happiest years were in the Army. And with no royal duties there will be no public funds.
The Sussexes will depart with the support and understanding of the whole family
The couple are not going to use their HRH titles, which will allay the fears of those who imagined they might cash in on them. In reality, they are both so famous that I do not believe the absence of a royal title will make a significant difference. That being said, the question of how they are going to become financially independent, as they intend, is one of many that are still unanswered.
Crucially, the couple are not going to forfeit their titles – which is the right decision. They are not disgraced in any way. They have simply come to the conclusion that they don’t want to live in the royal goldfish bowl any longer.
That is enormously disappointing for the British public. We will miss them and all that they have brought to The Firm.
We will miss Harry’s charm and his wit, we will miss Meghan’s style and her easy way with people. They could have soared and the sky would have been the limit. But I wish them the best of luck in their new life. I hope they will be happy, fulfilled, and live with no regrets.
How wise the Queen has been in brokering this deal – and how admirable that she leaves the door ajar, albeit slightly, for a return should they wish it.
Penny Junor is the author of Prince Harry: Brother, Soldier, Son
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