OPINION - Prince William must realise Harry is still a huge bonus for the monarchy

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·5-min read
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 (Natasha Pszenicki)
(Natasha Pszenicki)

Such was the drama of Boris Johnson’s confidence vote on Monday, it felt we were robbed of a collective pause for breath so we could digest the immensity of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations. I had no sooner shed a few emotional tears over Paddington Bear’s tea party with the Queen before I was in a TV studio discussing the odds on our Prime Minister’s political survival.

But that incredible weekend of pageantry does deserve our further attention. Because although it was a vast coming together of a nation to celebrate the faultless 70-year rule of our longest-reigning monarch and her service, it was also a demonstration of the transition taking place within the royal family. In recent months it has become clear there will be not one person leading the royals in the future, instead expect the multi-generational foursome of Prince Charles, Camilla, Prince William and the increasingly glamorous and pitch-perfect Kate. A combination of steadfastness and starry youth.

Then there are, of course, the grandchildren, the third generation. Who can forget Prince Louis blowing raspberries at his mum during the pageant on Sunday?

The Queen has held such a grip on our daily lives that when that day dawns the loss to our identity as a nation, here and worldwide, should not be underestimated. And despite the sizable allure of this new quartet, the Firm remains horribly slimmed down, with the loss of the Sussexes and Prince Andrew’s scandalous exit from royal life.

Recent polls show there is little reason to fear the position of the monarchy is in any doubt. Even if those wishing to abolish it have risen in recent years to 22 per cent, many more, polled in April, spoke favourably of Charles being king.

There is, however, still a stark rift at the heart of the family. And it is damaging. Despite the Sussexes mixing with the rest of the family during their brief stay, including introducing one-year-old Lilibet to the Queen, Princes Harry and William apparently remain estranged. These rumours could be wildly exaggerated and perhaps the brothers kept apart to ensure the pageant was not overshadowed by their relationship. I’m not sure many of us buy this theory. That Oprah interview is still perceived to have crossed a line with Prince William — not least when there has still been little public acknowledgement of the hurt caused, let alone an apology.

There was scant evidence William is making any effort to ease a reconciliation. In contrast, the Queen ensured Harry received his jubilee medal, was invited to St Paul’s (where the couple were loudly cheered) and were nearby if not actually on the Buckingham Palace balcony. Many of the other royals attended Lilibet’s birthday party on the Saturday, proving there is still a large portion of the family who are determined to keep loving channels open.

The princes’ grandmother, whilst no doubt desperately wishing these two brothers’ were friends again, understands the power of a family united. She knows that Harry and Meghan’s undoubtable star power both here and abroad, if harnessed correctly even as non-serving royals, remains a huge bonus for the international royal brand.

A country in poverty can swiftly turn on royal expenditure, but the royals bring close to £600 million a year in tourism every year, far outstripping their bill to the taxpayer.

None of the more junior royal members carry the same global celebrity the Sussexes do. And don’t forget their firm grip on the imagination of Americans.

It would be for the benefit of Prince William, not just Harry, if this younger team can fix their fallout. William should perhaps consider his recent tour of the Caribbean, where the tone was wrong. Harry and Meghan are also a modern representation of the royals. Maybe he should consider them as friends not foes — and people to turn to for counsel.

I know some readers will howl with derision but for many younger generations Meghan represented hope and change.

We do silly things when we’re hurt. It is human. Sorry is an easy word – it doesn’t matter where fault principally lies. Prince William is the elder of the two and if he wants to be viewed as kingly, he needs to forgive and display the same calm wisdom of the current monarch.

Harry humbly played his part this weekend. Joined together they are a force for good. Apart, the brothers will continue to be a PR disaster, and a royal family driven apart.

Is this the end of Johnson and Sunak’s affair?

News reaches us that a love pill could soon help fix the woes of unhappy couples. A little MDMA and rows and annoyances are washed away with chemical euphoria. If only we could waft some of this magic dust over to Downing Street where I fear one marriage is coming unstuck — that between our Chancellor and Prime Minister.

Allies or foes (who knows) are spreading gossip of Johnson sacking Sunak. Others naughtily claim Sunak, left, doesn’t get on with his PM anymore. The challenge for both is mistrust. Sack Sunak, keep him, it’s not an easy choice. As for our Chancellor, how long will he tie his ship to his embattled PM when it threatens to sink him too. A vitriolic divorce could be in the offing. But then, a crisis can bring couples together again.

I’m making up for lost time by feasting on the arts

I am behaving like a spoilt glutton when it comes to the arts to make up for what we missed during the pandemic. On Tuesday, I took my son to Aaron Sorkin’s new version of To Kill a Mockingbird. Although the play’s star Rafe Spall was away, the performance was incredible. We remained gripped for three hours — a rare feat for my 17-year-old.

Then last night I was up in Leicestershire at the Nevill Holt Opera’s opening night of La Bohème with the sensational Francesca Chiejina. The opera house was built by Carphone Warehouse founder and arts philanthropist David Ross, also a prolific collector. You can wander the grounds of his garden before curtain-up and admire the many sculptures he’s installed. Two artistic visits for the price of one.

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