LONDON — With rising fuel prices, a slowing economy, strikes and long waits in hospital emergency rooms, Brits could use a distraction in an otherwise long year. presents monotonous. And it comes from a trusted source: Harry and Meghan.
This time, it was Prince Harry who aired more grievances about his brother, Prince William, and the rest of the royal family in a pair of television interviews to promote the publication of his memoirs next week.
In one of them, with the ITV chain, he said: “I would like to get my father back; I would like to get my brother back.” And, apparently referring to Guillermo and King Carlos III, he added: “They have shown absolutely no willingness to reconcile us.”
In another interview, with Anderson Cooper on the show 60 minutes of CBS, Harry accused Buckingham Palace of planting negative stories about him and his wife, Meghan, and refusing to defend them in the face of smear attacks by London tabloids. “There comes a time when silence is treason,” he said.
The interviews will air on Sunday night, two days before Penguin Random House releases In the shadow, the Harry biography that royal experts hope will provide the toughest insight into the royal breakup; however, it is unclear if the book will be the last act in this long-running family drama.
Rumor has it that Meghan could write her own tell-all book about her marriage to Harry and her treatment by his family. The couple has a multi-million dollar programming deal with Netflix, which last month aired the six-part documentary. Harry & Meghanwhich received very good ratings and is about her acrimonious separation from the royal family in 2020 and her new life in Southern California.
On the website of their company, Archewell Productions, Harry and Meghan stated that their goal was to “produce programming that informs, exalts and inspires”. Among other projects, they are producing a documentary about the athletes who participated in the Invictus Games, a sports competition for military retirees started by Enrique, who served in Afghanistan.
However, the commercial and cultural value of the couple remains closely tied to their controversial relationship with the House of Windsor. The TV interviews and claims contained in Enrique’s book guarantee that his story will stay on TV screens and front pages for at least a while longer.
On Tuesday, clips of Enrique’s interviews appeared in almost every London tabloid, with nearly identical headlines.
“Henry: I want my father and brother back,” published the Daily Express. “I want my dad and brother back,” wrote the Sun newspaper. “Enrique: I would like my father and brother back,” repeated The Daily Mail. Even the Times of London and the Daily Telegraph published their lament for Guillermo and Carlos on their front page.
Only the Financial Times made a different decision, declaring that “the UK recession will be the deepest and longest ever”, while a couple of newspapers kept the focus on the NHS crisis and the transport strikes that are paralyzing much of the country.
This is the kind of distraction that royal family gossip has long provided the beleaguered British public. In that sense, the couple is participating in the same pan-and-circuses spectacle that Enrique has so often denounced.
In his interview with Cooper, Harry again complained about what he says is a deeply cynical and transactional relationship between Buckingham Palace and the tabloids. He said royal public relations assistants compete to present their bosses in the best possible light. This may involve “leaking” unflattering information about other royals to select journalists, who are given everything “on a silver platter,” he explained, and then add the obligatory “no comment” caption from the palace to suggest that the information comes from elsewhere.
“The family motto is ‘never complain, never explain yourself,’ but it’s just a motto,” Enrique said. He claims that behind the scenes, there were “endless” complaints and explanations, many of them damaging to him and Meghan.
For Cooper, who is a member of the Vanderbilt family dynastic, landing the interview was a success, though not on the level of Oprah Winfrey’s sensational interview with the couple in March 2021. That shoot prompted accusations of racism in the royal family and Meghan she confessed that she was so isolated and emotionally devastated inside the palace that she once considered suicide.
For the British interview, Harry chose Tom Bradby, an ITV correspondent who developed a close relationship with the prince and his wife. Bradby did the first interview with Meghan, during a trip to southern Africa in 2019, in which he revealed the depth of her unhappiness with real life. “Thank you for asking, because not many people have asked me if I’m okay,” Meghan told him.
Bradby got them to talk about another subject. Enrique assured that he had sought an approach, but that he was rejected by his brother and his father, a claim refuted by a person linked to the palace. “They think it’s better to keep us as the villains in a way,” Enrique said.
Buckingham Palace has not commented on the clips, consistent with the lack of response to the Netflix documentary. Carlos recently announced that Enrique would be invited to his coronation in May, suggesting that he would like to get over the grudge and play a healing role in the family.
Vernon Bogdanor, Professor of Government at King’s College London and author of several articles on the constitutional role of the monarchy, assured that Carlos “has rightly avoided getting into polemics with Harry and Meghan.”
William is also silent, though royal experts said that was less a sign of an impending reconciliation than the gulf between the brothers. London newspapers have reported that the family expects Enrique’s book to show particular harshness towards Guillermo, although the palace is also prepared for the possibility that his estrangement with Carlos will play more of a role than in the Netflix series.
Enrique hired as a ghostwriter JR Moehringer, a novelist and former journalist who wrote biographies of tennis champion Andre Agassi and Nike sneaker founder Philip Knight. Those books suggest Harry will delve into his emotional life, including his grief over the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.
However, as the latest TV clips hint, it will be Enrique’s ongoing confrontation with his family that will grab the headlines.
“Every time I’ve tried to do it in private,” Enrique told Cooper about his attempts to patch things up, “there have been reports and leaks and stories planted against me and my wife.”
Mark Landler is the London bureau chief. In his 27 years with the Times he has been bureau chief in Hong Kong and Frankfurt, a White House correspondent, a diplomatic correspondent, a business correspondent in Europe and a business reporter in New York. @MarkLandler