The former editor of Vanity Fair has revealed that Prince Harry chose to step down as a senior royal because he felt like he was being ‘edited out’ of The Firm.
Tina Brown, 66, told the Today show on Wednesday that the 35-year-old felt as though he was no longer a part of the most senior circle of the royal family – particularly after Buckingham Palace celebrated the new decade by releasing a portrait of the Queen and her heirs: Harry’s father Prince Charles, brother William, and nephew George.
Brown, who authored a book, The Diana Chronicles, about Harry’s mother Diana and her position within the royal family, added that the Duke of Sussex has been ‘very unhappy’ since leaving the army back in 2015, and hasn’t really felt as though he has a true place within the royal family.
Opinion: Former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown spoke out about Megxit on the Today show on Wednesday, revealing that Prince Harry feels as though he is being ‘edited out’ of the royals
Moving on: The 66-year-old author added that Prince Harry, 35, has been ‘a very unhappy man’ since leaving the army in 2015, and that he has struggled to find his true purpose as a royal
‘I know that Harry has been a very unhappy man ever since he came out of the army,’ she explained. ‘He has felt that he’s this big alpha guy and doesn’t really have a place to land.’
‘And what’s happened now is that Prince William and Prince Charles – you’ve got two heirs, well actually… it’s very crowded at the top right now! – and we’re in the twilight of the Queen’s reign, let’s face it, she’s not going to go on forever, and they’re on this really accelerated flight path now to get ready to be the King and the Prince of Wales.’
According to Brown, the feeling that Harry may have had of being pushed out of the royal family’s most inner circle was further exacerbated when Buckingham Palace released a new royal portrait of the Queen and her three direct heirs.
‘I do think [it rubbed Harry the wrong way], I think he felt, “I’m being edited out,”‘ Brown said of the portrait’s release. ‘And I think that he did mind that very much, and I think [Meghan] also minded it.
‘So I think his feeling has been, “Look, I’m being edited out, therefore I want out.”‘
However, Brown notes that, whether or not this idea is based in reality, Harry’s position within the royal family has always been that of an ‘ensemble player’ – just like many of the other most senior members, including William and Kate.
‘The truth is that when you are in the royal family, when you join the royal family, you are an ensemble player,’ she said. ‘Everyone is supposed to be an ensemble player, you’re all there to support one person. There’s only one monarch and you’re there as the backup troupe.
Hurt: Brown says that Harry’s feeling of being ‘edited out’ as a senior royal was made worse by the publication of a royal portrait of the Queen and her heirs: Charles, William, and George
Looking ahead: However, Brown believes that the Queen will ‘leave the doors open’ for Harry should he want to return to life as a senior royal in the future
Making a change: Prince Harry served in the British Army until 2015, however he was forced to leave Afghanistan in 2008 after German and Australian publications revealed his whereabouts
‘And you’re supposed to be deployed to do all these different royal things. This year, Meghan and Harry were expected to do 200 royal appearances, all over the place.’
Brown believes that playing the part of backup also didn’t sit well with Meghan, who was moving herself further into the Hollywood spotlight as a lead role on the hit series Suits when she first met Harry.
History: Brown published a book about Princess Diana’s position within and treatment by the royal family back in 2007, ten years after Prince Harry’s mother died
The former magazine editor believes that Meghan felt she could be better used as an ‘asset’ to the royal family – and that she felt far too restricted by the couple’s obligations when they were acting as senior royals.
‘These [official engagements] are things like opening hospitals in Guildford… they’re not super glamorous Commonwealth tours,’ the royal author noted. ‘A lot of them are really meat and potatoes, showing the flag PR events.
‘And for Meghan who has a big celebrity of her own, I think she found that a waste of herself as an asset.’
But still, Brown is not convinced that Megxit will last forever – and she says the Queen is likely working to find a way to ‘keep the doors open for Harry’ should he want to return to life as a senior royal in the future.
‘I think she feels life is long [and] she’s a big believer in [letting] cool heads prevail, so I think she really wants to keep that door open, and not alienate him,’ she explained.
‘Because who knows? This could be like a year’s experimental thing and he’s going to want to come back into the royal family.’
She added that the royal family was actually incredibly excited about the work that Meghan and Harry would be able to do – and that many felt the Duchess of Sussex would add some glamour and excitement to the public’s often-old-fashioned view of the royals.
‘…[Harry] is a big asset,’ Brown pointed out. ‘Harry is the second most popular person after the Queen in the royal family, he’s attractive, he’s a [military veteran], and they were actually excited about Meghan.
‘It seemed like, here she was, this star power… these two were really going to be this massive asset, bumping up the glamour of the royal family and doing the work.’
Changing role: Brown believes that Meghan, pictured in Vancouver this week, was not happy doing the ‘meat and potatoes’ engagements that are required of senior roles
New day: The Duchess made a surprise visit to the Downtown Eastside Women’s Center in Vancouver to ‘offer support’ and to ‘boost the staff’s spirits’
When it comes to the great debate about whether Meghan and Harry will – or should – keep their royal titles, Brown agrees that the Queen will not take them away, because that would make them less likely to return to the royal fold.
As for comparisons to Princess Diana, who was stripped of her title when she and Prince Charles divorced, Brown points out that it’s a very different situation – because Diana was not born into the royal family.
‘[The Queen] does not want to [strip Harry of his title],’ she said. ‘For a start, it’s very different from Diana, people say, well Diana was stripped of her title [but] she was the divorced ex-wife of the heir. You can’t divorce Harry out of the family, he is a blood prince, he’s going to be royal whatever you do, title or not.’
For now however, it seems the couple is moving full steam ahead with their plans to completely remove themselves from traditional royal life, and Meghan for one, seems very happy with the move.
The Duchess of Sussex – who, Brown says, will keep her title – was pictured for the first time since leaving the UK last week, grinning as she boarded a seaplane in Vancouver on her way to visit a local women’s shelter.
‘She looks very happy!’ Brown said of the photos, before hitting back at those who have blamed Meghan entirely for Megxit, saying: ‘Everyone thinks this is [a case of] “Meghan has got what Meghan wants” [but] I actually do think Prince Harry really wanted out too. I really do.’
Prince Harry has been serving as a full-time member of the royal family since 2015, when he officially left his role within the British Army. However, his active military position was scaled way back in 2008, when he was forced to leave Afghanistan, where he had been serving for ten weeks, over security fears when German and Australian publications released details of his location.
In 2017, while promoting the Invictus Games, Harry confessed that he felt ‘guilty’ after being evacuated, even though he knew that staying would have put his fellow soldiers at ‘greater risk’.
‘It was a decision over which I had no control, but the guilt of having to leave my guys behind was something I felt hard to swallow as anyone who has served would understand,’ he said.
Open-ended: According to Brown, the Queen is not going to strip Harry and Meghan of their titles, because she wants them to leave them with the opportunity to return to senior royal life
Brown’s belief that making the move away from the army and into full-time royal life left Harry desperately unhappy has been echoed by some of this fellow soldiers, with one former officer noting back in October that the Duke is not the same ‘bag of fun’ he was when he was serving.
The unnamed officer, who left the army to pursue a city job, said that Harry has changed since his marriage and revealed that he ‘seemed detached and disjointed’ when they last met.
He added that the Duke appears defensive and protective of his life following his marriage.
‘I have seen the Prince this year and he seemed very quiet and reserved, not the bubbly, fun chap I once knew,’ the source told the Sunday Express. ‘During his time in Helmand Harry was a bag of fun, though always professional.’
The officer described how the fun-loving Prince once found a motorbike and started driving it, when he was deployed on the ground with the Blues and Royals.
‘He had a great sense of humor. He excelled in daft jokes about football of rugby,’ he added, before describing how the Duke would be happy to make tea for fellow soldiers, tidy up books they were sent and would wait for his turn in the shower.
He added: ‘He immersed himself in military life and I think it allowed him to be himself and develop full friendships with normal people as opposed to the sycophants who tend to surround, then betray him.’