Prince Harry – victim of the ‘heir and a spare’ rite?

It must be hard being the spare, as in the expression ‘an heir and a spare’, as if you were just a judicious afterthought, a hedging of one’s bets so to speak.

How do you cope, knowing from a young age that you will never inherit the throne like your elder brother, or now sister? (Even the monarchy has moved with the times.)

We have seen this play out with Princess Margaret and then with Prince Andrew. Both seem to have ended up leading either wayward lives or lives that have incurred the wrath of the public. Perhaps having no real role in life leads one down a path of unsuitable choices or to surround yourself with sycophants who pamper your ego.

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Prince Harry has rejected his royal life in England and attempted to make a new life in the US, cosying up to Netflix and Spotify to provide him with publicity and money. But there are contradictions in all of this. Who would be interested in him if he wasn’t English royalty? He is attempting to have his life both ways, rejecting and yet accepting his birthplace and birthright.

I was astonished to hear and read comments uttered by Prince Harry the other day. He claims that he returned to England to check up on his grandma and to see that she had “the right people around her”. My first thought was that he had just blurted out the first thing that came into his head. Where were his PR people to gag him or advise him on more appropriate comments? Surely, they would not have sanctioned what he said? Or has he discarded those who told him the truth? Is this the case of the emperor’s new clothes, where no-one questions the reality before them?

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He sounded critical and arrogant towards the people who do look after the Queen on a day-to-day basis. Of course, a degree of hypocrisy struck me – he is questioning the care she is getting, yet as a grandson he has fled the country and not been seen for some time. Where is his own personal responsibility for her care, not just the palming of it off to courtiers and servants? Or is this just another thinly veiled attack on an institution that he feels has not supported his own requests?

Princess Anne is one who seems to have escaped the curse, perhaps growing up always knowing that the throne was never in sight. It is only recently that the laws on primogeniture were repealed, but too late for her if something dreadful had happened to Prince Charles. She has carried herself with dignity and supported the crown. Perhaps Harry should have taken a leaf out of his aunt’s playbook.

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