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If Harry really wants his family back, he’d be smart to stop talking so much

As reports claim that the Duke of Sussex writes of physical altercations between him and William in his new book ‘Spare’, Olivia Petter explores the complexities of familial rifts – and how Harry might be doing this all wrong

Friday 06 January 2023 09:11 GMT
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<p>The Duke of Sussex has expressed eagerness to mend his family, while simultaneously publishing details of their altercations</p>

The Duke of Sussex has expressed eagerness to mend his family, while simultaneously publishing details of their altercations

Oh, Prince Harry. Finally, the time has come when I feel sorry for everyone’s favourite jet-hopping, mansion-dwelling, dirty laundry-dragging royal. To be clear, this is not because I worry about the quality of his life now that he has firmly established himself across the pond in sunny Montecito. Nor is it because I’m concerned that he and Meghan might struggle to get any work done at their vast two-seater desk. Or because they’re too busy texting Beyoncé again. No. It’s because I fear that after all of this media face time, Harry is going to wind up without the one thing he wants most in the world: his family.

On Sunday, two separate interviews with the renegade royal will be broadcast to promote his forthcoming memoir, Spare. In the US, Harry will sit down with broadcaster Anderson Cooper for a special episode of the CBS show, 60 Minutes. In the UK, he will be interviewed by ITV’s Tom Bradby. Teaser clips from both interviews have been released on social media, revealing that, in both, the 38-year-old will talk in depth about everything that has happened in the last two years.

Spare: Revelations from Prince Harry's book

To recap, this will cover the fallout from Harry’s decision to step down from royal duties to his and Meghan’s new life complete with California sunshine and multi-million deals with Netflix and Spotify. But the interviews will also dive deeper, shedding light on internal royal politics and alleged family rifts, largely those between Harry and his brother, the Duke of Cambridge, and his father, King Charles.

In one clip from his ITV interview, Harry expresses remorse for how everything has gone down. He says “it didn’t have to be this way”, that he wants to “get his father back” and to “have his brother back”. The prince adds that he wants “a family – not an institution”. Well, if things continue this way, it’s likely he’ll soon have neither.

The interviews mark the latest in a long line of “Harry and Meghan versus the royal family” propaganda. The battle began at the start of last year with the couple’s bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview. Harry said he felt abandoned by his family amid the relentless coverage of his relationship with Meghan: “I thought my family would help, but every single ask, request, warning, whatever it is, just got met with total silence or total neglect.” He added that he felt “trapped” within his royal role.

Then, of course, there was their recent Netflix documentary. More bombshells came by way of Harry claiming there is a “huge level of unconscious bias” in the royal family, that they viewed Meghan as a “foreign organism”, and that, most shockingly, William “screamed” at his brother during the fateful Sandringham summit when the Sussex’s future in the family was discussed.

And that was just last month. On top of the two interviews this weekend, there will, of course, be further revelations in Spare. While the contents have largely remained tightly under wraps so far, reports emerged overnight that Harry accuses William of “grabbing him by the collar” and knocking him to the ground during a fight. Further sources have claimed the book pulls no punches, even adding more fuel to Harry’s family fire. “Everything is laid bare,” one source told The Sunday Times. “Charles comes out of it better than I had expected, but it’s tough on William, in particular, and even Kate gets a bit of a broadside ... I personally can’t see how Harry and William will be able to reconcile after this.”

On top of all this, there are also rumours that we might soon see a memoir from Meghan, which will undoubtedly contain further accusations against Harry’s family. The question many are asking is: why? Why would Harry continue to muddy the familial waters with more interviews? More books? More allegations? Particularly if, above all else, all he really wants is his family back.

While they did issue a statement with regards to some of the claims made in the Oprah interview, the royal family have not responded to any of the allegations made in the Netflix documentary. And it’s unlikely they’ll comment on those made in Harry’s upcoming interviews, either. If the teaser clips are anything to go by, relations are clearly still strained between the family and Harry. Why, then, would Harry complicate matters further by making more allegations?

Anyone who has ever argued with a loved one will know too well that third-party interference rarely helps, let alone when that third party is everyone in existence. Think about all the times you’ve criticised one family member behind their back to another: did it help alleviate tensions? Of course it didn’t. It probably just created more of it. Everyone has their own version of events, or a narrative they feel comfortable presenting to the world. And it will, in all likeliness, differ significantly from the narrative of the person you’re at odds with. When it comes to Harry and Meghan, we’ve so far only heard one story; based on royal history – and a firm “never complain, never explain” protocol – I doubt we’ll get another.

The problems between William and Harry may be beyond resolution

We don’t know what happened between Harry and his family. The problems might well be beyond resolution. But if Harry is serious about trying to get his brother and father “back”, so to speak, surely he’d benefit from sorting out his issues in private as opposed to commodifying them for public consumption?

What’s more, it hardly helps that Harry seems adamant he played no part in the fallout with his family. Even if he really believes he has done nothing wrong, few people are entirely blameless in any kind of dispute, particularly when it comes to those within a family. The prince’s refusal to take accountability has been pointed out by numerous royal critics, all of whom seem to have tired of Harry presenting himself as a victim. At this point, it’s hard to imagine the royal family thinking differently.

I’d like it if there is a happy ending for everyone after this. It’s no secret that Harry and William have hardly had an easy time, what with losing their mother at such young ages, and having to grow up under intense public scrutiny. But with so much still to come from the Sussexes, a reconciliation is not looking likely, which is why I’m starting to feel sorry for Harry. I don’t think he’s yet grasped the impact of his words.

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