Today, we are witnessing the slow destruction of Harry, a much-loved Prince, and it is a tragedy.
Far away from his family and friends, out of place in the California sunshine, he is an awkward and uncomfortable figure in the woke video sermons he now issues with his wife.
The fun-loving young man we used to know – who still commands such affection back in Britain – seems a distant memory.
Now, he has found himself associated with a book reading like a sour litany of complaints against the people and the life he used to hold dear.
It is certainly a world away from the broad smiles and glorious sunshine of just two years ago as Harry and Meghan waved to cheering crowds from a horse-drawn carriage in Windsor.
Who could forget the endearing scene as Prince Charles escorted Harry’s bride (pictured) towards the altar in the absence of her own father?
The failed relationships and indiscretions of the past – appearing at a party dressed as a Nazi soldier with a swastika armband, for example, or racially abusing a fellow cadet – were all forgotten as the nation celebrated the Prince’s emergence from the sadness of his mother’s death.
Despite what her friends now suggest, Meghan, too, was given the warmest of welcomes, seen as an intelligent free spirit who would breathe fresh air into the stale corridors of the monarchy.
Who could forget the endearing scene as Prince Charles escorted Harry’s bride towards the altar in the absence of her own father, or the warmth Charles showed towards Meghan’s mother, who had found herself alone?
For me, the author of a recent – and critical – biography of Charles and his self-indulgent life, his actions were pure redemption. Charles used the wedding to show the nation that not only was the monarchy generous-hearted but eager to embrace multi-culturalism and modernity.
And in the weeks and months that followed the wedding, Charles and other senior members of the Royal Family were determined to let it be known that Meghan deserved praise for her hard work, her independence, her lively mind and her apparent enthusiasm for mastering her new role.
Yet today, the joy of that wedding in St George’s Chapel has been forgotten. The couple seem defensive and embittered, petulant even – certainly if the pages of Finding Freedom are to be believed.
Harry’s decision to walk away from the monarchy – and criticise it so roundly – has hurt his father and caused a rift with his grandparents. Some might feel that to treat the Queen and Prince Philip so mercilessly is unforgivable.
Loyalty to a new wife is one thing, but surely his duty as a grandson who owes so much to these two wonderful people was not to cause them any grief. I believe it is time once again for Charles to show that spirit of generosity – but this time in relation to his son.
In the weeks and months that followed the wedding (above), Charles and other senior members of the Royal Family were determined to let it be known that Meghan deserved praise for her hard work
The authors of Finding Freedom are not far wrong when they say: ‘Highly emotional and fiercely protective of his wife, Harry was drained by the unique circumstances of his family which, as a source described, ‘doesn’t have the opportunity to operate as an actual family’.’
Unable to pursue a career which he genuinely loved, the Army, he has chafed at his lack of status in comparison with his older brother – who is, in addition, supported by a wife dedicated to upholding the formalities of life in the Royal Family.
Of course Charles understands Harry’s vulnerabilities. Sensitive and sometimes thin-skinned, his life was changed forever by the loss of his mother. As the second son – the spare, rather than the heir – he has found it harder than his brother to find a place in life.
Even today Harry feels compelled to read the comments about him made online despite the stomach-knotting effect they have on him, according to Finding Freedom. I believe Charles must make every effort to rebuild bridges with his son – and I trust he will.
For despite the turmoil, there remains a strong bond between father and son.
According to the book, amid the turmoil of Harry and Meghan’s negotiations over leaving the Royal Family, Harry continued to enjoy chats on the phone with Charles, who was in the thick of the negotiations about the transition.
His father even said he ‘would help them financially out of his personal money if they needed it’.
How did things reach such a state? Of course Meghan must take her share of blame for the breakdown in relations with the Windsors.
Was it really so hard to work within the Royal Family and its admittedly rather formal protocols for a little while longer?
According to the book, amid the turmoil of Harry and Meghan’s negotiations over leaving the Royal Family, Harry continued to enjoy chats on the phone with Charles, who was in the thick of the negotiations about the transition
Did the ‘jealous’ behaviour of her new relatives really justify her fleeing to America?
In leaving for home so quickly, the Duchess has opened herself to the suggestion that this was what she had intended all along – that from the outset Meghan had been plotting to return to America’s West Coast and make her fortune. In fairness, she denies it.
But Harry, too, must bear some responsibility. If his glamorous American wife is ambitious and headstrong, she is also playing to Harry’s own feelings – that he is in some way an outsider in his own family. And he is strong-willed, too.
Harry and Meghan left Britain supposedly to be free, but I have my doubts. For the truth is that a combination of Covid-19, a new mood of disgust at conspicuous excess, and the air of contention that seems to dog them wherever they go mean they have not yet been the success they hoped in America.
To maintain their lifestyle – the houses, servants, cars, chauffeurs – they will need to make millions from their appearances.
They need the work. But as one studio executive told The Mail on Sunday yesterday, the Sussexes are just too controversial to employ right now.
And what, in any case, do Americans want to hear from Harry aside from stories of his mother – who remains the subject of compelling interest across the Atlantic.
I hope that Harry really will find freedom – but not in the way the title of the book suggests.
I pray that one day he returns to the country he cherishes, and which still cherishes him.
According to the authors, Charles had made it clear to Harry that he was very much part of the future for the Royal Family, despite calls for a ‘slimmed down monarchy’ with fewer senior working Royals.
For Meghan, however, I fear there is no return.