Happy birthday, Harry

As Prince Harry turns 33, Juliet Rieden looks at what the fu­ture holds for the royal and his re­cent rev­e­la­tions about the pas­sion and pain that drive him.

The Australian Women's Weekly - - In The News... -

When you meet Prince Harry, the first thing that strikes you is his in­fec­tious en­ergy. Harry is a doer, he make things hap­pen and loves to take part. Next it’s his pas­sion for peo­ple. Like both his par­ents, Harry takes time to chat. Even though there may be 100 in the room, the per­son he’s talk­ing to feels like the only one. It’s a fan­tas­tic skill and one that will serve him well as his royal role shifts gear.

As he turns 33 on Septem­ber 15, Prince Harry is set to take on more royal roles. Step­ping into the void left by his grand­fa­ther, the Duke of Ed­in­burgh’s re­tire­ment from of­fi­cial du­ties, Harry will sup­port his 91-yearold grand­mother, the Queen, and help his brother, Prince Wil­liam. The young roy­als are stretch­ing their wings and mov­ing cen­tre stage as the House of Wind­sor re­dis­tributes the heavy lift­ing with a view to the fu­ture.

Also in Harry’s fu­ture, the world is hang­ing out for a wed­ding. In Au­gust, he took his girl­friend Meghan Markle on a ro­man­tic hol­i­day to Botswana to cel­e­brate her 36th birthday. Many won­dered if Harry might have popped the ques­tion on the break and ever since the Bri­tish tabloids have sug­gested an en­gage­ment is im­mi­nent.

This isn’t just idle spec­u­la­tion. The cou­ple has been to­gether for close to a year and in a pod­cast in­ter­view in April, Harry hap­pily re­vealed, “I would love to have kids”. In late Septem­ber, the Prince heads to Toronto for the In­vic­tus Games, where teams of in­jured ser­vice­men and women from all around the world, in­clud­ing Aus­tralia, will com­pete in Olympic­style sport­ing events cheered on by the Games founder – Prince Harry. And al­though there has been no of­fi­cial con­fir­ma­tion that Meghan will be by his side, it’s a fair bet, since this is where she lives and works film­ing TV drama Suits, in which she plays sexy lawyer Rachel Zane. Of course, Meghan is a celebrity in her own right, so to­gether the cou­ple will cer­tainly be at­tract­ing at­ten­tion.

Pro­tect­ing Meghan from the sort of pa­parazzi hound­ing his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, re­ceived is para­mount for the Prince. In one of a clutch of re­veal­ing in­ter­views Harry and Wil­liam un­der­took to shine a light on the 20th an­niver­sary of their mother’s death in Au­gust, both roy­als

“I in­tu­itively know what my mother would like me to do.”

stressed how dam­ag­ing that harassment was to their mother – who was reg­u­larly in floods of tears – and to them as chil­dren. “One of the hard­est things to come to terms with is the fact that the peo­ple that chased her into the tun­nel were the same peo­ple that were tak­ing pho­to­graphs of her while she was still dy­ing on the back seat of the car,” Harry told the BBC in a par­tic­u­larly poignant cry from the heart. Wil­liam called the pho­tog­ra­phers, “a pack of dogs”.

To­day, Harry is fo­cused on try­ing to achieve an “or­di­nary life” within his extraordinary world. “My mother took a huge part in show­ing me an or­di­nary life,” he told Newsweek.

“I am de­ter­mined to have a rel­a­tively nor­mal life and if I am lucky enough to have chil­dren, they can have one, too.” In­ter­viewer An­gela Levin said Harry told her that he ached to be “some­thing other than Prince Harry”, and with Meghan, an Amer­i­can di­vor­cée who is also an out­spo­ken fem­i­nist and sup­ports many of the causes Prince Harry holds dear, he may be able to find some sense of that.

Los­ing his mother at just 12 is part of who Harry is, but 20 years on, she is with him ev­ery day. “I in­tu­itively know what my mother would like me to do and want to progress with work she couldn’t com­plete,” he told Newsweek. He founded the char­ity Sen­te­bale – which means “for­get me not” – with Prince Seeiso of Le­sotho, who also lost his mother young, in 2006, to com­mem­o­rate their mums and help vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren liv­ing with HIV/AIDS.

His lat­est ini­tia­tive with his brother and the Duchess of Cam­bridge is to blow open the stigma around men­tal health. And true to form, Harry has jumped in with both feet and gone on record, talk­ing about his own bat­tles to de­velop from an an­gry, lost teenager to the pow­er­ful, passionate man he is to­day. “Years af­ter

[his mother’s death], I spent a long time [of] my life with my head buried in the sand, think­ing, ‘I don’t want to be Prince Harry. I don’t want this re­spon­si­bil­ity. I don’t want this role. Look what’s hap­pened to my mother. Why does this have to hap­pen to me?’ ” he told the BBC. “But now all I want to do is try and fill the holes that my mother has left ... to make a dif­fer­ence and, in mak­ing a dif­fer­ence, mak­ing her proud.”

For those of us watch­ing on, Harry has cer­tainly achieved that. We wish him a very happy birthday.

FROM TOP: Harry, aged two, with Diana in 1987; at a char­ity event in Lon­don, in July; Meghan Markle watches Harry play polo in May. OP­PO­SITE: Harry and his mum in a re­cently re­leased pho­to­graph from her pri­vate al­bum.

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