If you’re set to guest edit a nation’s flagship morning radio show, it probably helps to have the Rolodex of a royal.
Kensington Palace revealed on Sunday that Prince Harry had called on Barack Obama to star in his edition of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on 27 December.
The newly engaged prince questioned Obama about his memories of the day he left office, his post-presidential work with the Obama Foundation and his hopes for the future. The interview was recorded in Toronto in September during the Invictus Games, a sports event for injured military personnel championed by Harry.
In a teaser released by the palace, Harry outlines how the interview will proceed. A relaxed Obama asks whether he will have to speak more quickly, as he says he is a slow speaker – then jokingly asks if he’ll have to speak with a British accent.
Harry responds “not at all” but warns the former commander-in-chief that he can expect “the face” if there are any long pauses between answers. When Harry displays an exaggerated stern face, Obama responds: “I don’t want to see that face.”
Harry has given a number of heartfelt public interviews this year. In a documentary about Diana, Princess of Wales, he spoke of his struggle to come to terms with her loss.
“People deal with grief in different ways, and my way of dealing with it was just by basically shutting it out, locking it out,” he said. “The 10 years that I was in the army, I just dug my head in the sand and it was just … it was just white noise. And I went through a whole period of having to try and sort myself out.”
After his engagement to the actor Meghan Markle was announced in November, he revealed that he had included two of Diana’s gems in his fiancee’s engagement ring “to make sure that she’s with us on this crazy journey together”.
(July 1, 2016)
The pair meet in London through friends and begin a relationship.
(October 30, 2016)
News breaks that the prince and Markle are dating.
(November 8, 2016)
Kensington Palace confirms in an unprecedented statement that they are dating. The prince attacks the media over its “abuse and harassment” of his girlfriend.
(November 11, 2017)
Markle is spotted in London amid unconfirmed reports she is enjoying her first stay at Kensington Palace since the relationship was made public.
(January 10, 2017)
Markle reportedly meets the Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Charlotte for the first time in London.
(September 5, 2017)
The engagement looks set when Markle graces the cover of US magazine Vanity Fair and speaks openly about Harry for the first time, revealing: “We’re two people who are really happy and in love.”
(September 24, 2017)
Markle makes her first appearance at an official engagement attended by the prince when she attends the Invictus Games opening ceremony in Toronto, Canada – although the pair sit about 18 seats apart.
(October 19, 2017)
It emerges that the prince has taken Markle to meet his grandmother, the Queen, whose permission they need to marry. They met over afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace.
(October 22, 2017)
The prince’s aides are reported to have been told to start planning for a royal wedding, with senior members of the royal family asked to look at their diaries to shortlist a series of suitable weekends in 2018.
(November 21, 2017)
Markle is spotted in London, prompting speculation she is preparing for an engagement announcement.
(November 27, 2017)
Clarence House announces the engagement, and the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh say they are “delighted for the couple and wish them every happiness”.
Kensington Palace said the conversation between the prince and the former president would focus on the pair’s “shared interest in building platforms for the next generation of young leaders”.
Harry and Obama have enjoyed a relaxed public friendship for several years, having become acquainted during the first Invictus Games, in 2014.
Last year Obama and his wife, Michelle, posted a mock challenge to Harry on Twitter before the 2016 Invictus Games, telling him to “bring it”. The prince replied with a video of himself watching the challenge with his grandmother, the Queen. Having watched the video, the Queen simply says: “Oh really? Please.”