Prince Harry needs to make sure his lifestyle and right-on speeches don’t clash too much, writes Aidan Smith.
It’s a familiar tale. Bloke – and here we mean a blokey bloke – meets girl. Girl changes bloke, out of all recognition. He starts to dress better, live better. A blokey mate from the past might get anxious that he’s lost him, possibly for good.
So the blokey mate will make a last-ditch appeal: “Hey Hazza, I’m not saying that for the next fancy dress party you should dig out the Nazi uniform again because obviously that would send out the wrong message now that you’re in charge of, like, all of Sussex yah. So just have a beer and a fag with me for old time’s sake and ... what, you’ve stopped them, too? Cripes!”
Hazza is of course Prince Harry, these days less bloke, more woke. Or a wokey blokey bloke. Titled, entitled but very keen not to appear remote from the common people like some of his forefathers. Opening his shirt collar for official duties and opening his heart. Opening his fridge to reveal so many avocados, enough to merit a visit from the Brexit stockpiling police if he wasn’t who he was. Moving to Frogmore Cottage but, spiritually, resident in California. Caring and sharing though “Get orf my land” will possibly still apply. In touch with his feelings and in touch with his balls – chakra balls from the wellness centre, located on the shelf next to the singing bowls and the manuals – if a word with the ‘man’ prefix is still permissible – on how to find your true north.
This is fun, isn’t it? Having a laugh at the young duke’s expense. Apportioning the blame/passing the credit to wife Meghan for the New Age makeover, depending on your point of view. Do you want the sixth in line to the throne to be Harry the Hippy? Personally, I don’t mind. Harry the Hippy sounds better than Herr Harry. So what if she’s influencing him? Plenty of blokes need the love of a strong woman, and the guidance. Like, for instance, your correspondent. And plenty of us are perfectly happy, pub days a distant memory, snuggling up in his ’n’ hers onesies. Some of us will even swap and wear hers. Though I draw the line at watching Call the Midwife. That’s taking femdom too far.
It’s not, though, Meghan’s hold over Harry I worry about. Any incomer to the Royal Family has my support and sympathy and the more individual, modern and strong-willed they are, the better. Meghan sounds like all of these things wrapped up in a yoga mat and doused with eucalyptus, whortleberry smoothie and, from her favourite celebrity herbal boutique, a £26 tube of Calm Butterfly’s Soothing Balm which is apparently good for “inner strength and determination”. No, what concerns me are Harry’s mixed messages. In those desert boots he favours – vegan ones, no doubt – he keeps tripping up.
Remember last month when he leapt on stage at Wembley Arena and exhorted 12,000 screaming kids to join him in saving the planet? “Our world’s greatest assets are threatened every day,” he said. “Every forest, every river, every ocean, every coastline, every insect, every wild animal.” There was more: “Every blade of grass, every ray of sun is crucial to our survival.” What a speech! His Royal Right-on-ness!
But then, just as we were wondering how many insects Harry might consider inviting to live in a commune in his beard, the headline changed to “His Royal Hypocrite”.
Two days before the lecture, it emerged he’d hired a private helicopter to fly him from London to Birmingham, a mere 120-mile trip. This was right after criticism of Meghan for taking a private jet to New York to attend her baby shower.
The other day Harry again found himself in front of an audience of young people. Time for another woke-up-world pronouncement, only this would be what one paper called “his most hard-hitting speech yet” with another labelling it “ground-breaking”.
Great, except our hero took his silver spoon and dug a giant hole for himself.
“Growing up in today’s world, social media is more addictive than drugs and alcohol,” he told the YMCA in Ealing, West London. The previous day we saw just how addictive when a new Instagram account broke the record for accruing followers, passing the million mark within seven hours. Who launched the account? Ariana Grande in weird cahoots with Donald Trump? Lord Lucan and Shergar, back from wherever they’ve been all these years? Come on, think big. Think the shrinking, petrified planet’s most powerful power-couple. Think him with his meditation, which comes as naturally now as aimlessly spinning a rugby ball was in his old life, or lifting a pint. Think her with those rumoured aspirations for a gender-fluid baby, the birth controversially not seeming to involve the By-Royal-Appointment docs.
Of course, it’s Harry and Meghan with @sussexroyal, 4.3 million followers and counting.
I’m sure all their posts will be worthy. I’m sure Harry means well when he blasts off about Fortnite, the online survival game, and its addictiveness: “It’s designed to keep you in front of a computer for as long as possible ... it’s so irresponsible.” But Instagram is pretty addictive, too. Users, gawping at the good looks, wealth and privilege of the photo-based platform’s big hitters for too long, can end up feeling terribly inadequate. And the same goes for surveying so much wokeness.
Harry and Meghan are trying to do things their way and good for them. Within the context and confines House of Windsor, this is hugely fascinating for the rest of us, almost a survival game and therefore just as addictive.
Their green concerns and screen concerns are laudable but they need to practice what they preach. Maybe Harry should go easy on the avocados, pour himself a beer.