In 2019, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex did a weeks-long tour of several African countries. At the time of the tour, the palace was unaware of the fact that Prince Harry and Meghan had authorized journalist Tom Bradby and ITV to document their tour behind-the-scenes in what would become the documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey. Bradby had been friendly with and sympathetic to Harry before that tour, but after the tour, Bradby was treated as more of an unofficial spokesperson of the Sussexes. Following the Sussexit, Bradby has given a handful of interviews where he seems to have insider knowledge of what’s going on in Sussex World, and he’s remained (to my knowledge) pretty sympathetic towards Harry & Meghan. Well, now as the one-year anniversary of the Sussexit announcement has passed, Bradby decided to share his view on what’s going on in Sussex World.
On the African Tour documentary: “It was a very psychologically complex project because they were clearly in a difficult position and weren’t feeling great and I realized the extent of that the more I was there.”
On how the Sussexes feel about the past year: When asked if he thinks Harry and Meghan seem any happier since they moved to California earlier this year, Bradby says, “I think they are feeling better, yes… So are they unhappy? No, I think they are content, the things they are doing they are quite excited by. I think he is heartbroken by the situation with his family, you don’t necessarily need to have knowledge to know that, but I think it is true.”
The distance between Harry & Prince William. “The situation with the family clearly isn’t ideal and it has been a very difficult year for them all. But are they unhappy out there? No, I don’t think that’s right, I think they are pretty happy actually, but I think they wrestle with their position in life, I think they all do. I think William does too, I don’t think he finds it easy.”
On the Sussexit: “I think the whole thing has just been incredibly painful, that is obvious to everyone. It is painful all round, painful for everyone, difficult to manage. Effectively they have just decided to completely leave the royal family, that has never been done – I mean, you could go back to the Duke of Windsor but that was in very different circumstances – it’s never been done voluntarily before and no one still is absolutely clear how it is going to work. There are still a lot of hurt feelings on all sides and it’s very difficult…I think the public desperately wants them to be okay and everyone to be happy and clearly that hasn’t been the situation over the past year. It is not a very easy or comfortable situation, I don’t think it was ever going to be an easy or comfortable situation.”
Family tensions: “You have got to remember this isn’t just a family, it’s a firm. They are in the business of public service on a very elevated, exposed platform and to some extent, they are all locked in it together. And that creates lots of tensions that people perhaps do see relatively clearly from the outside, but at the same time they are trying to be a family and I am always acutely conscious of that and how complicated and frankly difficult it is.”
I appreciate that Bradby is like “eh, it’s still pretty complicated.” Because that’s a point of contention and confusion among so many royal reporters. No one can figure out if Harry and William have actually spoken to each other that much in the past year. No one can figure out if some of the wounds have been healed, who reached out to whom, or if anyone reached out. To hear someone like Katie Nicholl describe it, Harry and William are fine and they speak often, which feels like… the Cambridge version of events. I think Bradby is representing the Sussex version of events, which is that there are still bad feelings and there’s very little water under the bridge between the H&M and the Windsors.
There’s a lot unspoken here: “The situation with the family clearly isn’t ideal and it has been a very difficult year for them all…. I think they wrestle with their position in life, I think they all do. I think William does too, I don’t think he finds it easy.” The idea/reality that William struggles too is… not a Cambridge-approved talking point. But then again, I feel like Harry doesn’t want to be represented as someone carrying a grudge about being the “spare.” Harry left for a lot of reasons beyond the fact that he was the “spare.”
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid.