One of our top stories yesterday was about Prince Harry’s 36th birthday and the messages various royal households sent to Harry on social media. Clarence House, Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace all chose photos of Harry without Meghan, and some of the photos were even from years ago, before Harry even met Meghan. I thought it was worthy of comment, for sure, but I thought all of the photos chosen by various social media directors were quite nice, actually. But for Richard Kay at the Daily Mail, dissecting the photos chosen was worthy of a lengthy screed about how Harry is obviously quite miserable and he needs to come back to Britain, etc. You can read the piece here if you want, but I thought these were some of the stupidest points:
Why wasn’t Meghan included in any of the photos? However compelling the narrative of brothers at war may be, insiders dismiss suggestions that Meghan was purposely not included in the Cambridges’ photo. According to aides there is a protocol surrounding royal birthdays, just as there is for any other Palace-sponsored event. Spouses are never included.
Where were Camilla and Philip? All the same it is intriguing that the other two official pictures released to celebrate Harry’s birthday, from Buckingham Palace and Clarence House, show the Duke of Sussex with Prince Charles and the Queen alone. In the first there is no Prince Philip and in the other no Duchess of Cornwall. It is tempting, therefore, to wonder if this picture, with Kate running alongside the two brothers, was designed to tell us something about the status of the relationship between William and Harry and the wider one between their wives.
Harry never smiles anymore? And consider also the photos chosen by his father and grandmother. In both there is a smile on Prince Harry’s face. How extraordinary to learn that they too are not recent photographs but several years old. The one of Harry and the Queen was also taken in 2017, while the endearing picture of a father brimming with pride at his son is six years old – not only predating Meghan but also the growth of Harry’s beard. It does seem astonishing that three separate households of the Royal Family should each, independently, have to hunt through their archives to find a picture of a happy Harry.
“The dependable brother” in the KP photo: Behind the smiles it was also a moment which offered such a reassuring glimpse of the future of the monarchy. Here were the heir in line to the throne, the wife who will one day be queen and the dependable brother. He was no longer the ‘spare’, but Harry still occupied a uniquely important role as his brother’s sounding board and the one figure above all others who understood the enormity of the destiny and daunting responsibility he faced. It was taken on a February day in 2017 and it radiates the goodwill and competitive affection that existed between the three.
Harry is out of touch?? Fast-forward to 2020 and Harry has exiled himself from that future, turning his back on his family, his friends and his country. As for the brothers, once so close, they now barely speak. Meanwhile, his homilies delivered from his luxury home, set amid an enclave of California celebrity, seem often woefully out of touch to the problems faced by modern Britons. This, of course, allows for one other possibility thrown up by the photographs chosen for yesterday’s anniversary. There simply are no recent pictures of Harry with a smile on his face…
Harry smiles all the time. The idea that “Harry never smiles now that he’s with Meghan” is so absurd and really just… false. Once again, we have royal commentators acting like Harry dumped them personally – “He’s not happy with her, he’ll come back to us!” Don’t get me wrong, I do think it’s noteworthy that all of the palaces chose photos without Meghan, and that they all went through the photo archives to choose pre-Sussex, pre-marriage photos of Harry. Of course it was done on purpose. Of course the palaces are full of some of the pettiest, dumbest people around. But no, Harry is the one who is out of touch, right??
Wishing a very happy birthday to Prince Harry today! 🎂🎈 pic.twitter.com/Y8BDRzixGs
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) September 15, 2020
Photos courtesy of Backgrid.