Britain’s Rogue Prince: On the Way Up, Or On the Way Down?

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by Dan Ehrlich

 

How does one become a record-breaking non-fiction author and loathed by people worldwide at the same time? Britain’s rogue prince may have the answer.

For hundreds of years, the comings and goings of the British Royal Family were shrouded in secrecy, with only occasional snippets of information enhanced by considerable gossip being fed to the public. It was a world away from the public  gaze.

But that was before television, the Internet, and Henry Windsor aka Prince Harry as he’s popularly known.

The late Princess Diana’s younger son has recently had his memoirs published and in a single day a reported 1.5 million copies were sold making it the biggest-selling non-fiction book in UK history. A similar success is unfolding in the USA.

Yet, its content has made him a pariah in Britain and an A-List celebrity in America thanks to some random seemingly unhinged revelations about his private life and private parts.

Entitled “Spare,” the ghost written book has gone where no other similar book has dared to go, to offer intimate details of palace life, while criticizing, complaining and dissing members of his own royal family…the House of Windsor.

Even though polls show most Brits have an unfavorable opinion of Harry’s actions of late, that hasn’t stopped them from buying his book. Whether sales will ever exceed the reported $100 million Nextflix paid him and his wife Meghan for a series of televised interviews,  and future projects,  only time will tell.

But for now, Harry, the Duke of Sussex, is being feted in the USA while being demonized back home in a love-hate relationship he and Meg have had with the British media, which he blames as a main reason the couple fled the country for a self-imposed exile in North America.

The truth is British news hacks actually love him more than the Americans do. Everything he and Meg do is big news in the UK. The media remains in a constant state of readiness for the couple’s next bombshell. It can’t get enough of the Harry and Meg show, which now beats the ‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.’

For the Brits, this saga turned soap opera of the wayward prince mimics the 1936 abdication of King Edward VIII, who, as with Harry, married an American divorcee and gave up his title to live in a self-imposed exile with Wallace Simpson. But the comparison stops there.

Edward and Wallace didn’t make a home in the US and didn’t become deeply involved in liberal social causes. Harry and Meghan have emigrated to the US and remain committed to liberal social causes. Or, so they say.

But, the biggest hurdle the royal establishment couldn’t clear, according to Harry, was Meg’s bi-racial lineage…a first for the UK. Harry claims this was also a main reason for their leaving the country.

Yet, it’s not too big a stretch to believe Meghan has been the driving force in this regard. Harry, brought up in wealth and regal privilege, was accustomed to the ways of Buckingham Palace and royal duties.

Meg, an actress from Hollywood, found herself playing a role many actresses would die for, but one which she quickly grew to dislike…It was a daily reality show that never ended, not a film role that wrapped when finished.

Meghan found moving to Montecito, California a stone’s throw from Los Angeles, a natural for their plans to ditch the UK monarchy and its money while capitalizing on America’s fascination with anything royal. And so far, it’s been a very profitable decision. They may have left the royal household, but not the lavish lifestyle, that their new digs afford them.

First, there was the couple’s well-staged and directed 2021 Oprah Winfrey Interview, which went international. Even though Oprah said they weren’t being paid for their initial media bombshell, that didn’t account for advertising revenue, some of which may have found its way to the couple’s bank account.

Reports claim US network CBS paid a staggering $7 million-$9 million for the rights of the interview, with ITV in the UK also securing the rights for more than $1 million.

For the moment, at least, the wayward prince and his princess are Hollywood ‘A Listers’ if they choose to go that route of endless red carpets and glamorous parties.

An American can probably see more clearly than the Brits why Harry deserted his royal family. It just good business for a guy who has no business.

After serving in the army for nine years, with two distinguished combat tours in Afghanistan, he was left with the realization that he was destined to always be a ‘spare’ prince, now a distant 5th in line to the throne with his work and social life revolving around endless royal public relations functions. He wanted more. He wanted to be King someday. With little chance of that, he wanted out.

Meghan was to be his lifeline to a new life. He could ditch the spare title and carve a new career for himself with his wife in America.

But what could he do? Meghan could get back into showbiz. Yet Harry, other than being a royal and a soldier, has never held down a job. You could frame it in actor Eddie Murphy’s African prince character in the film ‘Coming to America,’ with Harry taking orders in a fast food restaurant. That was never an option.

The answer was doing much of what he was doing as a working royal…keeping active in social causes. To this end the couple formed the non-profit Archewell Foundation in swank Beverly Hills, California, where the main social cause is finding a parking space on Wilshire Boulevard.

According to its description, “At Archewell, we unleash the power of compassion to drive systemic cultural change. We do this through our non-profit work within the Archewell Foundation, in addition to creative activations through the business verticals of audio and production.”

The Archewell website, launched in late October, says the organization will create “compassionate communities online and off, to serve our collective well-being”.

The Archewell branding was created following the couple’s applications to trademark “Sussex Royal” for a range of goods and activities.

To kickstart their foundation the royal couple hired a high-powered multi-level public and press relations staff. Which makes what has happened from the Oprah interview onward that much more amazing.

When Edward VIII abdicated, it was done in a dignified manner without rancor or hostility toward the crown. And he was the king. But he was still a member of the royal family with his finances secure from the government.

Harry, on the other hand, with 6,000 miles between Buckingham Palace and Montecito, felt the distance and his new life allowed him to unload all the ill feelings he had accrued since his mother’s 1997 death and make loads of money doing it.

Everyone from his father King Charles to the ravenous British press became targets for his anger, first through Oprah Winfrey, then via Netflix, and most recently in the pages of his autobio ‘Spare,’ which Harry promoted with appearances on US and UK TV current affairs shows.

Yet, one might wonder about his emotional state or his motivation when after cruelly denigrating his father, brother and sister-in-law in a wine-a-thon, he then told an interviewer that he hopes he can get back together with his family.

Most UK royal correspondents say he’s gone too far to come back. But don’t bet on that. There possibly could be something he didn’t make public such as warning his family in advance of what he was planning.

I’m sure his PR people advised him of the pluses and minuses of what he was about to do at the outset. He would be demonized in the UK as an ingrate, moaning Minnie, and even a traitor but make a lot money in the process. And since Harry, without his royal allowance, is now just a working guy in La La Land, he chose the latter option which has proven to be a gold mine.

Yet, gold mines often play out. The Duke and his Duchess may find their celebrity and news value diminishes rather rapidly, as things tend to do in Hollywood.

A Newsweek poll this week found almost half of Americans, 44 percent, said Harry was wrong to include details of private family conversations in his book, while 26 percent said he was right to do so.

Harry was liked by 31 percent of Americans and disliked by 38 percent giving him a net approval rating of -7. Data collected by Redfield & Wilton for Newsweek as recently as December 5 put Harry at +38, meaning he dropped 45 points in just more than a month.

His wife fares even worse. Meghan was viewed favorably by 26 percent of Americans and unfavorably by 39 percent, giving her a net approval rating of -13. This compares to +23 on December 5, a drop of 36 points.

It’s safe to say as long as their marriage lasts, which is a premium in California, Harry will remain in the US. But, if it doesn’t, it’s a good guess he will return to the UK, sadder but wiser. Then the big question would be: Will his family welcome him back?

The couple’s continued financial success will depend on what their foundation produces and/or what other juicy bombshells they release. But, in the long run, the petty grievances of a rich prince don’t carry much weight in a nation with the biggest gap between rich and poor in the developed world.

 

 

 

 

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