Life and times

The royal bi­og­ra­pher on chat­ting with Prince Harry, her wed­ding wardrobe and mastering the curtsy

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - News - An­gela Levin

An­gela Levin, bi­og­ra­pher of Prince Harry

GET­TING A SE­NIOR ROYAL to agree to be in­ter­viewed is not easy. It took me five re­quests to get the go-ahead for a pri­vate ‘con­ver­sa­tion’ with Prince Harry at Kens­ing­ton Palace. (He doesn’t ‘do in­ter­views’, I was told.) My heart sank when I was told it would last just 20 min­utes – that’s only enough time to make the small­est of small talk, a prac­tised way to re­lax in­ter­vie­wees.

I lis­tened closely to the ques­tions he asked peo­ple he met while on royal duty, many of whom had suf­fered phys­i­cally, men­tally or both. In­stead of be­ing po­litely su­per­fi­cial, he went straight to the core. I de­cided to take a gam­ble and do the same.

My heart thumped as I sat in the palace sit­ting room. Ner­vously, I said I’d watched him con­nect pro­foundly and quickly with those who had been dam­aged by life, and won­dered whether he used the op­por­tu­nity to help process his own is­sues. Did he find it ther­a­peu­tic? There was a long pause. ‘You’re right, of course,’ he even­tu­ally replied.

The gam­ble must have paid off; we car­ried on chat­ting for 80 min­utes.

BE­FORE I MET Prince Harry, I asked his team whether I should curtsy and was told it was up to me. I de­cided I would, as that way I couldn’t go wrong, and I prac­tised daily for two weeks. It was harder than I thought. Some peo­ple get tongue-tied when talk­ing in pub­lic, I get my legs in a twist, some­thing I proved at my son’s sports day dur­ing the ‘Mum Run’, when I fell over my feet sec­onds af­ter the starter whis­tle was blown.

When I first prac­tised my curtsy it was an achieve­ment not to fall over, but in time I mas­tered the position. On the day, I was ush­ered into the sit­ting room, where Prince Harry was wait­ing. He got up, walked to­wards me and held out his hand to shake mine. Just at that mo­ment I placed my left leg be­hind my right and bobbed down low, leav­ing his hand adrift some­where over my head. I was grate­ful he pre­tended he hadn’t no­ticed.

Shortly af­ter­wards, dur­ing a ses­sion with my per­sonal trainer, he told me to do an ex­er­cise that in­volved a curtsy-like move, while hold­ing a weight. It was great for my glutes and, hey presto, I did it cor­rectly first time round. TWO THINGS STRUCK ME while fol­low­ing Prince Harry as part of the royal press pack. First, you need to be fit and for­get about eat­ing or drink­ing. In a year, I man­aged to grab a cup of tea and a bis­cuit just once (at a Help for He­roes event). Harry moves fast and packs in as much as pos­si­ble. Of­ten I had to run to keep up, my hand­bag un­der one arm and a note­book, record­ing de­vice and mo­bile to take pho­to­graphs in my hand.

The sec­ond thing is that he al­ways wears the same clothes to pub­lic events. Un­less it is for­mal or sports-ori­en­tated, you’ll see him in blue suede desert boots, an ice-blue shirt and a sky-blue jacket. No doubt it saves time plan­ning. Since their en­gage­ment, Meghan Markle’s style has also changed: she has ditched skinny jeans for sleeve­less dresses.

I’ve been watch­ing more closely than usual be­cause I’ve been booked by CNN to cover the wed­ding for nine days, and friends and col­leagues were ask­ing what I planned to wear. Hav­ing lived in track­suit trousers and T-shirts for months while writ­ing my book, I was stuck. I ap­proached ev­ery in-store per­sonal stylist I could find. ‘You need clothes for Harry’s wed­ding?’ each one asked. ‘P-l-e-a-s-e let me help you. I LOVE him.’ Re­sult. A new stylish wardrobe of bright, un­fussy clothes that is the near­est I’ll get to be­ing a princess. I may never wear them again but they will hang proudly in my wardrobe. Harry: Con­ver­sa­tions with the Prince, by An­gela Levin (John Blake, £18.99), is out now

I bobbed down low, leav­ing Prince Harry’s out­stretched hand adrift over my head

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