In a fresh bid to secure privacy for himself and his family, Prince Harry has announced this week that he is publishing his ‘intimate and heartfelt’ memoirs at the age of 36. The book – ghost-written by JR Moehringer, another of those dastardly journalists – will be published by Penguin Random House late next year and is set to provide ‘the definitive account of the experiences, adventures, losses, and life lessons that have helped shape him.’
The official press release includes this gem from the exiled royal: ‘Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, said: ‘I’m writing this not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become.’ Might be worth sharing that memo to Penguin’s publicists then. Noting that he has ‘worn many hats over the years, both literally and figuratively’, the Duke of Sussex declares his hopes that the book will ‘show that no matter where we come from, we have more in common than we think.’ Mr S eagerly anticipates seeing whether the following episodes in Harry’s past are utilised in pursuit of such a noble aim.
- The drugs drama
Getting up to mischief when parents are away is a frequent feature of adolescence. Harry then surely have bolstered his credentials as a man of the people by indulging in cannabis and alcohol while his father was absent in the summer of 2001. Drinking at a pub near Highgrove and hosting after parties back on the estate, Harry was reported to have fallen in with a bad crowd. Charles subsequently despatched his son to a rehab clinic in Peckham to meet individuals recovering from addictions to stronger substances, before Harry was grounded during his Christmas holidays later in the year. Finding freedom? Not so much.
2. The armband episode
Fast forward a few years and Harry, then 20, attended a friend’s ‘colonial and natives’ themed party resplendent in what appeared to be the khaki tunic and swastika armband of Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps. Harry’s sartorial choice resulted in an outcome more reminiscent – if viewed from the British perspective – of Gazala than El Alamein. Splashed across the front page of The Sun as ‘Harry the Nazi’, an apology was swiftly issued by Clarence House for “a poor choice of costume”. Mr S wonders what the response of Harry’s woke California friends would be if similar events were to happen today.
3. The teacher incident
A schoolteacher’s employment tribunal seems hardly the place to unearth royal secrets. Yet in February 2006, the awarding of £45,000 in damages to a former Eton art teacher resulted in exactly that: the tribunal accepted that help had been provided to Harry as he prepared an ‘expressive’ project as part of his art A-Level, for which he received a B. The teacher had been asked by their superior – by whom they claimed they had been pressured as part of wider accusations of bullying – to prepare accompanying text for the project, part of which required an explanation of artwork produced.
Although both the tribunal and the examination board found no evidence of cheating by the Prince, the episode cast a pall over the Prince’s schooling days, with his entrance into Sandhurst on a D in geography and an assisted B in art being the crowning achievements of a lacklustre academic career.
4. The cadet catastrophe
Having moved from costume to uniform, the young Prince became enveloped in further military-related controversy in early 2009 when footage – recorded in 2007 while on manoeuvres as a Sandhurst cadet – emerged in The News of the World. It showed Harry referring to one colleague as a ‘raghead’ and another as ‘our little Paki friend’, the latter of whom went on to win Sandhurst’s Overseas Sword of Honour for best foreign cadet. Near-universal condemnation followed, with Harry left to smart from criticism by messrs Brown, Cameron and Clegg as well as a dressing down by his commanding officer.
5. What happened in Vegas
The string of colourful revelations about the Prince reached its peak in mid-2012 when photographs of him and a young woman engaged in a game of ‘strip billiards’ were published by American gossip website TMZ. Warned by Clarence House that the Press Complaints Commission would be contacted about a breach of privacy if the pictures were published, British newspapers were initially reluctant to do so until The Sun took the plunge two days after they initially emerged. Whether Harry’s memoir will see him bare all about this particular incident remains to be seen.
6. The Cut Off
In the infamous joint Sussex interview with Oprah Winfrey four months ago, Harry claimed that his family had ceased providing financial support in ‘the first quarter of 2020’ once he and Meghan ‘stepped back’ as senior royals. This decision, Harry went on to say, forced the pair to sign a commercial deal with Netflix in order to afford security, support for which had also been rescinded by the ever-affable Canadians.
Yet the Prince of Wales’ most recent accounts suggest that £4.5m was provided to the Cambridges and Sussexes during the 2020-21 financial year, which commenced in April. The ‘substantial sum’ allocated to support Harry and Meghan’s transition to independence continued until the summer, alongside the significant inheritances passed down to Harry by his great-grandmother – though a spokesman for the Sussexes insisted there was no inconsistency in the timeline.
The Duke promises a memoir ‘that’s accurate and wholly truthful’. Mr S wonders whether this will be the truth, or his truth.
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