The Royals will regret choosing to humiliate Harry...
Truly I did not expect to find myself feeling desperately sorry for Prince Harry. yet as the days of mourning for his beloved grandmother passed by, this young man appeared to suffer humiliation after humiliation.
Grief, shame and anger passed continuously across his face and I could only pity a man who still, to me, seems to be the child who followed his mother’s coffin in the full glare of public attention.
All seemed hopeful at the beginning. He had already been in the country that was, and I suspect at heart still is, his home.
He did not receive the news of his grandmother’s death as quickly as the rest of the immediate family. He was still in the air on his way to Balmoral, but he was told as soon as was possible, certainly before the news was made public. He was with his closest relatives to share their immediate grief.
The following day, his father, now King Charles III, made a moving and heartfelt speech to the nation. He shared his feelings ‘of profound sorrow’ over the death of the Queen. He announced the elevation of his son and heir, Prince William, and his wife, Kate, to their new titles as Prince and Princess of Wales and said: ‘I also want to express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas.’
It was more, I’m sure, than many expected given Meghan’s continued critique of the royal Family and the concerns about what might be revealed in the Prince’s autobiography. Charles did emphasise their choice to leave their lives as working royals and live overseas, but he used the word ‘love’ and that is not a trivial word to be denied or dismissed.
I have not always been complimentary about Harry, since he married a woman whose fame had come from a TV series and who now appeared to me to have landed a starring role beyond her wildest dreams.
He should never have been persuaded to take part in interviews with Oprah Winfrey, critical magazine coverage, silly podcasts and tell-all memoirs — boosting his and his wife’s earning power while undermining the reputation of his family.
But now here he was, grieving for his grandmother and experiencing the real power and admiration that being a close member of the late Queen’s family might afford him.
Harry was here to take a full part in mourning for the Queen, but I cannot understand why a father who declared his love so openly,
and so dearly longed for reconciliation between his two sons, would have spent the days after the death of his mother exposing his second son to constant humiliation.
Clearly there were conventions that the ‘men in suits’ would want followed. No uniforms to be worn by non-working royals was the most obvious.
BUT Charles is King. Within royal protocol, he has all the power. He could have allowed Harry, like his brother William, to wear the uniform of the regiment for which he fought so proudly during two terms of military service in Afghanistan.
Harry served for ten years in the British Army. His uniform was not gained as a gift from the Queen in recognition of non-active leadership of a particular regiment.
It was earned through real bravery, real fighting. He has not had his status as a working royal taken away against his will, in the way his uncle Andrew has. He has not been closely involved with a convicted paedophile. He is merely a romantic lad who fell in love and allowed himself to be led by his wife. There’s no crime in that.
And yet we watched him burn with embarrassment as he was forced to grieve, on public show, with his medals pinned to a morning suit.
He and his wife appeared to have been uninvited from a Buckingham Palace reception during the mourning period. The Prince of Wales and his wife had been there. We watched the pain on his face as the procession passed the Cenotaph and, while his father and brother, in uniform, were allowed to salute, he was not.
A mere nod of the head had to suffice for a young man who, alone of the three, has seen death and destruction on the battlefield.
On the one occasion he was allowed to wear uniform, as he stood with his brother in vigil in Westminster Hall, he found the Queen’s initials EIIr had been removed from his shoulder. They were still present on his brother’s coat. When it came to the day of the funeral services, there were more seemingly petty insults. Why were Harry and Meghan not seated at the front along with the King, the Queen Consort, the Prince and Princess of Wales and their children?
Why were they stuck on the row behind the King in the Abbey, out of the way and, in Meghan’s case, in Windsor, hidden behind a huge candle?
The King, on the whole, behaved impeccably throughout the past week, giving beautiful speeches and holding himself together, apart from a couple of understandably tetchy incidents involving pens.
But if it’s true that Camilla can always calm him down and give good advice, she needs to remind him that a good parent must never favour one child over another.
If Charles wants to see reconciliation between his two boys, he must welcome the prodigal son fully into the family and treat them both as equals.
I did, by the way, see Harry singing God Save The King through gritted teeth — but who can blame him?