Prince Harry faces British backlash over telltale royal memoir
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When Prince Harry’s comprehensive memoir was leaked via a Spanish retailer earlier this week, the California-based royal faced a swift backlash at home in the UK.
In a scathing reference to the sometimes painfully frank book title Spare, the pro-establishment Daily Mail carried the front-page headline “Oh Spare Us” on Friday.
The right-wing Daily Express said the prince had “sold [His] Soul,” while the staunchly royalist Sun newspaper quoted ex-soldiers as saying the prince had “betrayed his army colleagues” by revealing the number of Taliban fighters he allegedly killed.
The flood of exciting revelations risks tarnishing the British monarchy’s reputation abroad, according to leading historians, royal biographers, public relations experts and pollsters.
A poster promoting the launch of Prince Harry’s memoir Spare in London © Leon Neal/Getty Images
But despite the prince engaging in what one royal historian has dubbed a “family libel”, data shows that the UK’s public support for senior members of the royal family has plummeted in the face of criticism from Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. withstands.
However, the prince’s personal popularity has been on the wane since he launched a series of media appearances and interviews last year.
The prince – who now lives in the US and has given up all official royal duties – has repeatedly raised grievances against senior royals. They include his father King Charles and brother Prince William, with whom he says in his book he had a physical altercation.
As well as criticizing his father for not hugging him after the death of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, the prince made several personal admissions in the book, including using cocaine and losing his virginity to an elder Woman in a field behind a pub aged 17.
Robert Lacey, a royal historian and biographer, said the relentlessness of the revelations weakened him far more than the institution of the monarchy.
“What is critical to the monarchy is the conduct of the king, and to a lesser extent his heir, including their detachment from this family libel,” Lacey said. “The Personal Revelations . . . reflect very poorly the source of these revelations – this is how the British public is reacting.”
The book, due for an official release next week but accidentally put up for sale prematurely by a Spanish retailer, has drawn an angry backlash from the pro-royal establishment.
From left: Prince William, Catherine, Princess of Wales, Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex wave to the public following the death of Queen Elizabeth in September © PA
William Shawcross, official biographer of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, said the prince’s memoir is “different from his generous behavior as a brave army officer and sponsor of the Invictus Games” to wounded veterans.
“The constitutional monarchy is at the heart of Britain’s unique success. It’s shocking that Harry and his wife seem so cruel to undermine it,” he added.
Data from YouGov, the polling firm, showed support for the prince and duchess in the UK, who dived last month after the couple slammed Buckingham Palace in a six-part documentary series for streaming platform Netflix.
Beth Kühnel Mann, a head of research at YouGov, said Spare is likely to further diminish the couple’s popularity in the UK. “We saw both suffer in popularity in December. So if we’re looking forward to the impact the memoir might have, we shouldn’t expect it to be positive,” she said.
While approval ratings for senior royals, including the King and Prince of Wales, dipped marginally after the Netflix series, they remained overwhelmingly positive when compared to those of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
The couple’s negative public opinion in Britain is reflected in the coverage of the revelations by the country’s press, the vast majority of which is hostile to the prince. He has frequently been at odds with the British tabloid media, accusing them of manhandling his mother to her death in 1997.
Diana, Princess of Wales with her sons Prince William (left) and Prince Harry in 1995 © PA
The prince’s description of his 25 kills as “pawns taken off the board” also opened up the possibility of him being used by the Taliban for propaganda purposes. One of the group’s leaders wrote on Twitter that the dead were “not pawns but people.”
However, David Yelland, editor of the Sun between 1998 and 2003, said that while British press and public support for the royal family was solid, Spare still posed serious problems for Buckingham Palace, which refused to comment on the allegations to express.
“The bigger issue is that Harry, theatrically speaking, broke the ‘fourth wall’ and shed light on an institution that has survived in obscurity for centuries,” Yelland said. “The risk for the palace is that the monarchy becomes a soap opera. The more light you shine, the less likely it is to survive.”
He added that the royal family also can’t afford to ignore the fact that the Netflix documentary has been a hit in the US and has raised questions about race being popular in the US, where the couple is popular , completely different games.
The Royal Family watches a flyby marking the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force in July 2018 © PA
“If most people in the world are on the side of Harry and Meghan and people in the UK are on the side of the royals, it doesn’t work in the long run,” he added.
The spate of personal revelations comes at a difficult time for Buckingham Palace as courtiers work to cement the reputation of the new king, whose coronation will take place on May 6.
Sir Vernon Bogdanor, a government professor at King’s College London and author of Monarchy and the Constitution, said the British public has long separated the private lives of royals from their constitutional roles.
History has shown that despite previous royal dramas, the British have continued to support the monarchy, he said, citing George VI’s seamless coronation. in May 1937, despite the abdication of his brother Edward VIII the previous December.
Even Queen Elizabeth’s self-proclaimed “annus horribilis” of 1992, when three of her four children went through a messy and very public separation, hasn’t shaken public confidence in the institution, Bogdanor added.
“It is remarkable how little influence the annus horribilis had on the prestige of the monarch. In the 1990s, opinion poll support remained stable at between 70 and 75 percent. People saw beyond that.”