Prince Harry's new job is hardly 'public service'

25 March 2021

2:21 AM

25 March 2021

2:21 AM

At the tender age of 36, Prince Harry has got his first job since leaving the royal family. Congratulations to him. As most teenagers will know it is both a liberating and formative experience. Paper boy, shopfloor dogsbody, chief impact officer – the roles can be unglamorous, but they’re almost always worth it.

Harry’s big post-Megxit break into the world of work is everything we could have expected. He will be working as something called a ‘chief impact officer’ at a Silicon Valley firm called BetterUp, which offers professional-development and mental-health coaching to businesses and their employees.

Going by BetterUp’s website, it seems to peddle therapeutic burble to firms with more money than sense. A perfect fit for Harry, then, who in his campaigning on mental health, or in his dabbling in politics, has perfected the art of wispy, irksome platitudes.

Just get a load of the press release announcing the Duke’s appointment. He says his goal will be to ‘lift up critical dialogues around mental health, build supportive and compassionate communities, and foster an environment for honest and vulnerable conversations’.

There’s no word on his precise responsibilities or how much he’ll be paid. He reportedly won’t be managing a team. But what he will be doing is ‘driving advocacy and awareness for mental fitness’ and ‘guiding BetterUp’s social mission and impact’, which sounds like plenty.

According to the Wall Street Journal, ‘chief impact officers’ or ‘Chimpos’are relatively new to the corporate world. Industry blogs say they tend to focus on a firm’s ‘social and environmental impact’. ‘Businesses’, one commentator tells us, ‘are now awake to the fact that doing good in the world isn’t the sole preserve of the third sector’.

Harry and his fellow Chimpos, then, seem to be the latest expression of woke capitalism. That is, the desperation of rich businesspeople to convince themselves that they are possessed of some moral mission beyond making profit, and their tendency to latch on to any modish cause going, from mental health to Black Lives Matter to environmentalism.

Since leaving the monarchy, this fusion of virtue-signalling and profiteering has essentially been Harry and Meghan’s whole schtick. Their multimillion-dollar deal with Spotify is, in their words, about bringing forward ‘different perspectives and voices’ to ‘find our common ground’. Just as their deal with Netflix is apparently all about ‘shining a light on people and causes around the world’ and ‘creating content that informs but also gives hope’, rather than raking it in.

Whether or not they actually believe this, the couple are constantly trying to present their lucrative deals as an extension of their professed love for public service. And so Harry nabbing a cushy job advising a firm that flogs life coaching is recast as an opportunity to ‘change millions of people’s lives for the better’.

In all this we are reminded that Harry and Meghan, in leaving the monarchy, weren’t so much kicking against the old establishment as itching to join the new one – a trendy aristocracy that manages to extract both moral purpose and vast wealth from peddling politically correct twaddle. Well, it’s nice work if you can get it.

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