Saturday 7 January 2023

Spare: Prince Harry's storytelling prerogative

The epilogue first

That Prince Harry has decided to tell his own story is his own prerogative, just because he is royal does not take away both his agency and his individuality. Prince Charles and Princess Diana gave primetime interviews and ghost-authored books too. In the same vein, no one is under any obligation to read his book, it is not being forced on anyone.

Then this and much more…

As a monarchist, I vow

Maybe I should start with a statement that I believe the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland serves a purpose. For broader reasons, I would say I am both a monarchist and a democrat.

However, as a matter of necessity, all institutions need to adapt and undergo changes, some radical to remain relevant or they risk extinction. There is a difference between the institution and the people who for whatever period of time get to helm those institutions, be that the monarchy or government in the office of the Prime Minister.

The weaknesses of our democracy

Sadly, I cannot report that the crop of politicians we have today exhibit the qualities and abilities of leadership that can persuade me that ridding ourselves of the monarchy is wise at this time. The political parties especially the Conservative Party which once was a broad church of diverse representative views have evolved into one where there is only one persuasion and any deviation from that leads to expulsion.

That is what the Brexit situation wrought on the Tory Party at the 2019 election, they got rid of the reasonable and acquired the reactionary. Looking back over 12 years of predominantly conservative government, I think we can agree that the nations are not better off now than when they took power in May 2010, but I have already digressed from the purpose of this blog.

Changing is banging at the door

The state of our monarchy after 70 years of Elizabeth II calls for a review of how they exist and operate, their ability to adapt would require Solomonic wisdom with Churchillian persuasion. We have a clear line of succession, the King, his heir, the Prince of Wales, and the grandson, Prince George but they do not have the obscurity that conferred the mystique on the aristocracy that Queen Elizabeth started with, and there was much radical change in how the monarchy conducted itself over those 70 years.

To many, Queen Elizabeth was a symbol of stoicism, rarely did you see displays of emotion or expressions of character that might look interesting. King Charles pen wars at his assession that continued during his visit to Northern Ireland or the much-rumoured fiery temper of Prince William, the Prince of Wales, we know a bit more about Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex and we would soon learn more still.

The press of the press

I doubt I have the spare change to buy Spare, the memoir by Prince Harry to be released on the 10th of January 2023, but some revelations that have been shared would suggest there is a firestorm coming for the monarchy and I am not sure there is any dexterity to hand to manage the blowout.

What I know is that Harry and Meghan have had the most unfavourable British press that is followed closely by the Australian version, we have been swamped with stories and regaled with tales, there had to be a time when the people affected could talk back and clear the air.

It began with their exodus to America and the Oprah interview, however, people have taken sides and formed whatever impressions about the couple that the entrenched are totally unpersuadable about a different narrative. That the sides could be along racial lines is something I have observed too.

The whoredom of the press and the royal family

If we go back to when Princess Diana was alive and had issues with the press, it is sometimes believed it was the pursuit of the paparazzi that contributed to the automobile accident where she lost her life in Paris, one can say the press is unrelenting in its quest for celebrity tittle-tattle, you need to be in a totally different domain to escape it.

When reading up about Franz Welser-Mรถst who conducted the Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Concert, he alluded to the relationship between the press and the Royal Family and his time as the conductor of the London Philharmonic “Look at the press about the royal family,” he noted. “There’s no other country where the press is just so weird as it is here.” That was in 1995, you can draw whatever conclusions you want from that. [Los Angeles Times: Conductor Battles Burden of Success]

Angry black woman loading…

One widely reported excerpt from Harry’s leaked book was one related to a confrontation between Prince William and him, captioned below:

Describing a confrontation at his London home in 2019, Harry says William called Meghan “difficult”, “rude” and “abrasive”, which Harry calls a “parrot[ing of] the press narrative” about his American wife.
[The Guardian: Prince Harry details physical attack by brother William in new book]

I do not know Meghan Markle, but as a once successful and independent woman who married into the royal family, she had her work cut out. That beast called love would put you in unintended situations for which you have to battle for your survival.

Yet, as is indicative of a monarchy at risk of being found moribund, the Queen asked her most trusted aide from a certain age and time to help Meghan adjust to entering the royal family, this without considering the same lady failed to help Lady Diana Spencer integrate well too. Yes, that Lady Susan Hussey, has met a shockwave of opprobrium and is on a crash-course on engaging with diversity in these times. Having a stiff upper lip is not enough for getting on with life, regardless of status, means, or privilege. We have long left the war years, and nostalgia is keeping us back.

However, back to William’s view of Meghan, he said, she was difficult. Well, ask any black woman who has had trouble in any settle because they have dared to have an opinion, initiative, a voice, or exuded a sense of independence. The first loaded word to castigate them is difficult and the straight journey to an impossible angry black woman has already begun. Meghan never had a chance, the moment she gained the epithet of difficult and the long tail of descriptions that followed.

Tell your own story

The difference between Prince Harry and Prince William is Prince Harry was ready to stand for his relationship, and stand up for his partner and wife. That cannot be said of how Prince William first broke up with Kate Middleton before he saw the sense to rekindle their relationship and marry her.

Blog - A welcome but unprincely separation (April 2007)

That Prince Harry has decided to tell his own story is his own prerogative, just because he is royal does not take away both his agency and his individuality. Prince Charles and Princess Diana gave primetime interviews and ghost-authored books too. In the same vein, no one is under any obligation to read his book, it is not being forced on anyone.

However, if anyone has readily consumed whatever the media has said about Harry and Meghan without disregarding the apparently cosy relationship between the press and the royal family that offers access and patronage to portray the principals in the best light whilst reducing others to inconsequence, then it would only be fair to see what Harry has to say.

Finally, until we have met those persons and made their acquaintance to the point of knowing who they are, what we have is a media persona, a depiction crafted by benevolent and malevolent agencies over which the persons concerned gain or loss benefits and have a portrayal they have little control over. Harry and Meghan have chosen to make their lives in America, and they need to earn a living with the skills, opportunities, and even the privilege of birth. I bid them Godspeed.

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