The War of the Waleses 2.0

In the Nineties, it was a husband and a wife who used supportive reporters, friendly biographers and the global reach of television to extol their own royal righteousness, as their marriage deteriorated. Now, it’s the sons of Charles and Diana who are settling scores after the searing pain of a shared bereavement failed to lash them together for life. Harry is first out of the traps with ‘Finding Freedom’, which is being serialised in the Times and the Sunday Times. The biography captures his intense hurt that the people who are variously described as ‘the men in grey suits’, ‘the old guard’ and ‘vipers’, didn’t properly appreciate what he and

Princess Madeleine of Sweden shows Harry how to exit a royal family

Can a royal who grew up third in line to the throne marry a rich American and move over there? Swedes have been here before: Princess Madeleine, sister to the Crown Princess, did this a few years ago. She now lives in Florida, and her example could be instructive to Prince Harry and Meghan. Like Harry, she first tried love at home, but it didn’t work out: her 2009 engagement to Jonas Bergström, a lawyer, was broken off after rumours of him cheating on her. The news rocked Sweden and when she moved to New York shortly after, it was seen to be quite understandable. And then she just stayed

Melanie McDonagh

Why I’m not surprised that Prince Harry meditates

Surprise! Prince Harry has let it be known that he meditates daily after being presented with a copy of Eight Steps to Happiness by a Buddhist monk, Kelsang Sonam. It is of a piece with his assertively detoxed marital masculinity which reportedly involves eating kale and doing yoga, and describing himself as a feminist, which he also did yesterday. Perhaps he also uses Gillette. There’s obviously nothing wrong about meditating – Sister Wendy Beckett did it all the time – nor, I suppose, about eating kale, though I personally prefer eating pheasant. But let’s not go with the notion that there’s anything brave or interesting about all this; the Prince,

What Meghan’s new fans like to ignore

What would it take to convert Afua Hirsch to the cause of capitalism? We now know the answer because the Guardian columnist has enthusiastically backed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as the couple seek ‘financial independence’, by such means as registering the trademark ‘Sussex Royal’. As for those who have criticised the Duke and Duchess for doing this? According to Hirsch, writing in the New York Times: “…by taking matters into their own hands, Harry and Meghan’s act of leaving — two fingers up at the racism of the British establishment — might be the most meaningful act of royal leadership I’m ever likely to see”. The charge of

Why people who hate Brexit love Megxit

It is actually fitting that Harry and Meghan’s decision to leave the UK is being referred to as Megxit. Because this royal temper tantrum, this flouncing out of the UK by the most painfully PC couple in monarchical history, has much in common with Brexit. Like Brexit, it has exposed the vast moral divide that now separates the new elite, of which H&M are key figureheads, from ordinary people. Like Brexit, it has confirmed that this nation is now split, in David Goodhart’s words, between ‘Anywhere’ people and ‘Somewhere’ people. ‘Anywheres’ are post-national, geographically mobile and often sniffy about those old, apparently outdated values of community life and familial loyalty.

Harry and Meghan have placed the Queen in an impossible position

In the Queen’s Christmas message, she observed that 2019 had “felt quite bumpy” at times. Her implication was that a new year could well bring happier, more stable times. Unfortunately for Her Majesty, it isn’t how 2020 is panning out. The pseudo abdication of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex from the Royal Family, just in time for the early evening TV news yesterday, will come as a bitter personal blow to the Queen. It also presents the monarchy with a problem that may come to dwarf even the terrible ongoing publicity about Prince Andrew’s friendship with the late Jeffrey Epstein. Harry and Meghan’s announcement came, we are told, despite

Melanie McDonagh

The puzzling thing about Harry and Meghan’s big announcement

Let’s not get carried away. The Queen’s younger grandson may be decamping to North America with his lovely wife and baby but the Queen herself is very much in business; life goes on. It may certainly have been odd, not to say ill advised, for this headstrong couple to have announced their departure from Britain without a by your leave to anyone, including the Queen, but that does seem to be their modus operandi, all the while professing regard for the royal tradition in which they will be raising baby Archie. Personally, I haven’t felt that life has been greatly diminished by the absence of the couple for the last

Prince Andrew’s fatal error

Well, they’ve got their scalp. Prince Andrew is retiring from public life. But before he did, he said in his prepared statement all the things a more media-savvy individual might have done during the televised interview with Emily Maitlis. ‘I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein. His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure. I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives.’ He added that he was ‘willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required’. These were

Prince Andrew’s Newsnight interview was a career-defining calamity

Hats off to Newsnight. BBC 2’s flagship political show bagged itself an almighty royal scoop. Emily Maitlis was given an hour to quiz Prince Andrew about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex-offender who was found dead in his jail cell in August. The first bombshell of the night was the news that months of negotiation had led up to this stage-managed encounter in a Buckingham Palace drawing room. ‘Normally we’d be discussing your work,’ opened Maitlis, as if her main ambition in life is to cover the potterings of minor royals. ‘We’ve been talking to Newsnight for about six months,’ agreed the prince, ‘about doing something around the

Harry and Meghan’s documentary is a spectacular own goal

So after Tom Bradby’s documentary on Harry and Meghan: An African Journey last night, what are people talking about? The mines issue, 22 years after Diana walked through a minefield in Angola? Violence against women and girls in South Africa, as evident in the training that girls get to help them fend off attacks, which the couple saw in Cape Town? Conservation of elephants, Harry’s big thing? The couple – first together, then Harry singly – went to an astonishing succession of African states one after another – was it really necessary to pack them all into a single visit? – and visited a worthy project in each of them.

Prince Harry’s misguided attack on the press

It had all been going so well. Coverage of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s tour to South Africa kicked off with footage of them dancing, before moving on to feature their work promoting the importance of gender equality in education and the horror of violence against women. We’ve been treated to rare pictures of baby Archie being introduced to Archbishop Desmond Tutu. And who doesn’t love a cute baby – especially one dressed in £14.99 chain store dungarees? So right on, but so relatable. We know all this because the press have been there, dutifully on message, diligently recording every royal smile. And the reward for this slick, glossy

Prince Harry and Meghan’s made-to-measure morality

Prince Harry’s revelation that he intends to only have two children for the sake of the planet is woke politics at its worst. As his critics have readily pointed out, if he truly believes that having fewer children will save the planet then why not stop at one child? As much as Harry might like us to believe that his decision comes at a great personal cost, he has simply adopted an ethical stance that best suits his lifestyle. This made-to-measure approach to morality is everywhere these days: from so-called ‘flexi-veganism’ to the long-haul flights enjoyed by some supporters of Extinction Rebellion. It enables people to signal virtue without having to change very


‘Ha, ha,’ said my husband, as though he’d made a joke. ‘Here’s one for you.’ He waved a page of the Guardian. A piece by Afua Hirsch about Archie Mountbatten-Windsor called him ‘a child who will have to navigate for themselves the madness of all the ways in which we have been taught to essentialise and fetishise race’. The plural pronoun as a gender-neutral device, ‘navigate for themselves’, makes Mountbatten-Windsor sound more like a firm of solicitors than a single baby. But what I want to focus on is essentialise. When Justin Webb asked Rachel Shabi on Today last week whether it was fair to call her a Jewish supporter

The Sussexes’ complete lack of self-awareness

There’s no stopping the Sussexes, is there? Right after they get up everyone’s nose by saying their son’s christening is out of bounds, they’ve gone and told us all to save the planet. On Instagram, obviously. And to help us do it, they posted images of penguins, a sea turtle and a little child holding a placard saying You’re Never Too Small to Make a Difference. They want us to look at 15 different accounts, from – yep – Greta Thunberg to Leonardo diCaprio’s climate change foundation and Elephants Without Borders. And then change our ways. That’s right. The Sussexes. The Duchess, who shared Amal Clooney’s private jet to

Why should we pay for Harry and Meghan’s new home?

Before you get too worked up about the £2.4 million cost to the taxpayer of refurbishing Frogmore “Cottage” for a family of three – one a baby – bear in mind to keep some indignation in reserve for next year. Because this is only the first instalment of the project before the costs have had a chance to overrun, and you know what it’s like with builders. Wait for the next financial year. The other thing is, this already-not-inconsiderable-sum isn’t actually necessary for the housing of Meghan and Harry in the style they feel they deserve. As Richard Kay wrote in a brilliant bit of analysis for the Daily Mail,

Prince Charles’s trip to Cuba is a big mistake

More than 120 years ago, Winston Churchill sailed to Cuba. While there, he dreamt of a country ‘free and prosperous…throwing open her ports to the commerce of the world, sending her ponies to Hurlingham and her cricketers to Lords.’ Now, in spite of Cuba’s communist revolution, the British government seems to have the same optimistic view as Churchill. But is it right to do so? On Sunday, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall landed in Havana. Their tour is the first official royal appointment in Cuba, a four-day trip the British government hopes will strengthen economic and diplomatic relations with the communist country. The royal trip may

Why can’t Prince Harry be more like the Queen?

Are you feeling better? Anyone who’s seen Prince Harry address the WE Day – Me into We! – gathering in London yesterday of woke young people, chiefly teenage girls, may have taken time to get over the sheer emetic quality of the performance, but I’m there now, thank you. But have you ever heard more unvarnished drivel? “You are the most engaged generation in history!” Harry told his audience. “You have the incredible opportunity to help reshape mindsets, to empower those around you to think outside the box and to work with you, not against you, to find solutions”, one cliché at a time presumably. The rumours about Meghan helping write

The man who would be king

Last year on Who Do You Think You Are?, Danny Dyer — EastEnders actor and very possibly Britain’s most cockney man — discovered that he was a direct descendant of Edward III. Luckily, nobody had the heart to tell him that for somebody of English stock the chances of not being are estimated at 0.0000000000000000000000000001 per cent, and Dyer reacted with a memorable mix of excitement, delight and overwhelming pride. Now, in the two-part Danny Dyer’s Right Royal Family, both he and BBC1 are milking his regal lineage for all it’s worth in what might well be the oddest TV show of recent times. The first stop in Wednesday’s opening

Letters | 25 October 2018

Irish problem Sir: What James Forsyth calls ‘the EU plan’ to keep Northern Ireland in the customs union after Brexit (‘The Irish problem’, 20 October) would no more ‘ease Northern Ireland away from the UK and push it more towards Dublin’s orbit’ than it has already done itself through numerous legislative differences. With regard to social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage, Northern Ireland is far closer to the Republic (as it once was) than to the rest of the UK. It would therefore be no great stretch to avoid awkwardness of land border checks (and respect the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement) by having such checks at the

The genius of constitutional monarchy

George Orwell famously wrote that an English intellectual would rather be caught stealing from the poorbox than be seen standing to attention for God Save the King. Such intellectuals must have had a terrible time last weekend when much of the nation’s gaze was fixed on the wedding of two young people who are part of an institution we think of as quintessentially British. The newlyweds have shown early commitment to those qualities we celebrate as particularly British: duty, charity and the service of others. Whether it is the two tours in Afghanistan served by Prince Harry, or the charity work that the couple has embraced, the hallmarks of the