‘Prince Pop­u­lar’ takes back seat

STRIFE WITH ME­DIA AND STRAIN OF PUB­LIC LIFE BE­HIND WHAT PRESS DUBS ‘MEGXIT’

The Citizen (KZN) - - Profile - Lon­don

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan will step back from se­nior roles in Bri­tain’s royal fam­ily and spend more time in North Amer­ica, they said on Wed­nes­day – an an­nounce­ment that took his grand­mother, Queen El­iz­a­beth II, by sur­prise.

WHO ARE HARRY AND MEGHAN? Royal birth

Prince Harry, 35, is the sec­ond son of Prince Charles, heir to the throne, and his first wife Diana, who died in a Paris car crash in 1997 while be­ing chased by pa­parazzi. For many Bri­tons, one of the en­dur­ing im­ages of Diana’s fu­neral was Harry, then aged 12, and Wil­liam walk­ing be­hind the fu­neral cortege to West­min­ster Abbey.

Harry is the grand­son of Queen El­iz­a­beth. He is sixth-in-line to the throne. Born in 1984 and named Henry Charles Albert David, he was ed­u­cated at the ex­clu­sive Eton Col­lege.

Wild Child

Harry was por­trayed as a royal wild child and play­boy prince and in 2002, he ad­mit­ted to smok­ing cannabis and get­ting drunk when un­der­age in a pub near the royal fam­ily’s coun­try es­tate.

His fa­ther sent him to a drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion clinic in Lon­don for a day to give him a glimpse of the dan­gers of drug abuse. Harry later scuf­fled with pa­parazzi out­side a Lon­don night­club and sparked out­rage by dress­ing as a Nazi of­fi­cer at a cos­tume party.

Afghanista­n

He turned around his im­age af­ter join­ing the army and spend­ing time on the front­line fight­ing in Afghanista­n.

His easy-go­ing man­ner with the pub­lic has made him one of the most pop­u­lar mem­bers of the royal fam­ily.

He spent 10 years in the mil­i­tary, a role where he felt he could be him­self, with­out the me­dia scru­tiny or any of the other trap­pings of his gilded up­bring­ing.

Known in the army as Cap­tain Harry Wales, the prince started of­fi­cer train­ing at Royal Mil­i­tary Academy Sand­hurst in 2005. He un­der­took his first tour of Afghanista­n in late 2007 and then trained as an Apache at­tack he­li­copter pi­lot.

He went on a sec­ond Afghan tour as an Apache pi­lot be­tween Septem­ber 2012 and Jan­uary 2013, but quit front­line mil­i­tary roles for a desk job.

He left in 2015 to fo­cus on royal du­ties and char­ity work, par­tic­u­larly the wel­fare of mil­i­tary vet­er­ans, con­tin­u­ing his mother’s work help­ing those with Aids, and men­tal health is­sues.

He made front pages in 2012 when he was pho­tographed par­ty­ing naked and play­ing bil­liards in a pri­vate room in Las Ve­gas, later say­ing he had been “too much army and not enough prince”.

Meghan

Harry and Meghan Markle, 38, an Amer­i­can di­vorcee, met on a blind date in Lon­don and mar­ried in May 2018.

Markle was born in Los An­ge­les in 1981. Her fa­ther was a TV light­ing di­rec­tor for soaps and sit­coms and her mother a clin­i­cal ther­a­pist.

In 2011, she mar­ried film pro­ducer Trevor En­gel­son but they di­vorced two years later. Meghan ap­peared in a num­ber of TV shows and films, but achieved great­est fame for her role as Rachel Zane in the on­go­ing Suits series.

Their son, Archie Har­ri­son Mount­bat­ten-Wind­sor, was born in May last year.

Strains

In his first pub­lic ac­knowl­edge­ment they were dat­ing, Harry com­plained about the way the Bri­tish me­dia treated Meghan. He re­ferred to the sex­ism and racism directed at Markle, whose fa­ther is white and mother African-Amer­i­can.

The strains of pub­lic life were show­ing: re­la­tions with the Bri­tish me­dia col­lapsed and there was talk of ten­sion with his brother Wil­liam.

In Oc­to­ber, Harry said the cou­ple had taken le­gal ac­tion against the Mail on Sun­day in re­sponse to what he called “bul­ly­ing” by some sec­tions of the Bri­tish press.

Days later, Harry sued the pub­lish­ers of Ru­pert Mur­doch’s Sun news­pa­per and the Daily Mir­ror over al­le­ga­tions of phone-hack­ing, re­lat­ing to events that hap­pened be­fore Harry and Meghan met.

“We have cho­sen to make a tran­si­tion this year in start­ing to carve out a pro­gres­sive new role within this in­sti­tu­tion,” they said in a state­ment on Wed­nes­day. “We in­tend to step back as ‘se­nior’ mem­bers of the Royal Fam­ily, and work to be­come fi­nan­cially in­de­pen­dent.” –

Pic­ture: EPA-EFE

TEN­SIONS BUILDS. Prince Harry, the Duke of Sus­sex, and his wife Meghan, in Jo­han­nes­burg last year dur­ing an of­fi­cial visit to South Africa.

Pic­ture: EPA-EFE

SHOCKED RE­AC­TION. UK news­pa­pers lead with sto­ries on the Duke and Duchess of Sus­sex af­ter their bomb­shell an­nounce­ment on Thurs­day.

Pic­ture: AFP

BREAK FROM SCRU­TINY. Prince Harry serv­ing in Afghanista­n in 2012.

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