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  Opinion   Columnists  08 Jan 2023  Kishwar Desai | Will the 'Spare' (Prince Harry) end up richer than the royals?

Kishwar Desai | Will the 'Spare' (Prince Harry) end up richer than the royals?

Kishwar Desai, is the chair of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, which is setting up the Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar.
Published : Jan 9, 2023, 1:49 am IST
Updated : Jan 9, 2023, 1:49 am IST

All of London has been talking about nothing else.

Prince Harry and Meghan (Image: Netflix)
 Prince Harry and Meghan (Image: Netflix)

Happy 2023. Brrr. It is cold here and snow is threatened this coming week. Of course, while there may have been a “Santa” in your lives in December — it was certainly not the government scattering gifts and going “Ho, Ho, Ho”!

So the merry, happy days of Christmas did not really arrive for Londoners.

But that is life and one hopes 2023 brings peace in Ukraine and a change in the fortunes of the UK. The year that we left behind saw the departure of UK’s most loved monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. And thus when the year 2022 ended somewhat sadly, it felt like the end of an era.

But Londoners bore up stoically as they usually do. They turned up in their thousands to say their final farewells to the lady who had ruled over them for seventy years.  Perhaps the enduring image of 2023was the full scale, faultless memorial service. And this confirmed the succession of her seventy-plus-year-old son and heir, Charles.

Still, the feeling of unease does not go away. Monarchy is an old — but delicate plant. It has served England well for over three millennia. But as the waves of modernity lash onshore, the question is “Will Monarchy survive?”

This question is on everyone’s mind as it is beginning to look like a tacky soap opera.

Usually this would not be an appropriate moment to broach the subject, with a brand new King in place —had it not been for a domestic fracas going on within the royal family. The trouble has come, not unexpectedly, from Prince Harry who has just published his eagerly awaited (with some trepidation) memoirs titled Spare.

The title refers to the idea that the woman who marries the potential successor to the throne — the Prince of Wales — must provide two children. The older one would be the heir, and the next in line is the “spare”, just in case some untoward accident prevented the heir from succeeding. (The late Queen’s father was a “spare” but when his older sibling abdicated the throne to marry an American divorcee, her father got the Crown. He became George the Sixth, the last King Emperor of India. )

So “spares” can be lucky but only by accident, but Harry has done what his great-granduncle did: he married an American divorcee. Only this time, Meghan Markle, an actor with non-White roots, led the way to his resignation from royal duties.

As the book, just published in Spain, shows — Harry had felt like an “outsider” for a long time. He had been regretting the loss of his mother Princess Diana at a young age, and his own the marriage alienated Harry from his family. Finally, he has withdrawn from his Windsor household and has settled in California with Meghan and their two children, Archie and Lilibet.

Everyone is eagerly going through each chapter of the book as discussed in the media — and its UK publication will ensure a mega bestseller. Harry and Meghan may end up being richer than the royals, through the book royalties and other media deals. It began gently with an interview with Oprah Winfrey who heads a most watched TV live interview programme. That caused waves, not least in the London daily press.

Then followed interviews with other sources in the US, appearances in public and even a Netflix saga. Meghan said she had suffered racist behaviour in the royal palaces and now Harry has gone public about a serious quarrel with his older brother William and his wife Catherine, the next Monarch and Queen. In this latest bombshell he recalls being hit badly by William.

All of London has been talking about nothing else. Mind you the misery of the outdoor with strikes and snow and sundry obstacles to movement, helps Londoners to stay indoors. But Royalty which used to light up Christmas with the Queen’s broadcast seems to have depressing overtones.

All this is enumerating the dangers to the present royals, and their reputations.

The late Queen was a pillar of the realm, always correct, respectable and cheerful. A public quarrel, coming on the airwaves and now as a well packaged book, is likely to add to the critics who feel the Royals have outlived their usefulness to the UK.

Will the fight of the “Heir and the Spare” damage the institution of monarchy itself? At present, all bets are off — and Harry may be completing what his mother had begun through her own damaging media interactions. The one title he will relish is being the “real’ son of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Tags: prince harry, british monarchy, prince harry memoir