Diana Wichtel: Harry follows parents’ foot-in-mouth steps

Opinion

Another day, another ill-advised interview by a member of the House of Windsor. Prince Harry has a way to go to outdo the output of his parents as their marriage collapsed like a derelict heritage building undergoing poorly controlled demolition.

Prince Charles had his infamous 1994 chat — two and a half hours of primetime — inspiring a barrage of gleeful tabloid headlines: “Charles: I Cheated on Diana”; “Di told you so”. His affair with Camilla shook the monarchy amid revelations so excruciating — the leaked phone conversation known as “tampongate” — that even The Crown drew the line at a re-enactment.

Princess Diana returned fire in 1995 in a still-controversial interview — a quarter of a century later the BBC has had to apologise for how it was obtained — with her briskly incendiary, “There were three of us in this marriage.”

Diana said, of herself, “She won’t go quietly… I’ll fight to the end.” It’s hard to shake the spooky feeling that Harry has taken it upon himself to keep up her work on an institution still thrown into chaos when one of The Firm breaks step. A visit to his nana is the latest cherry bomb lobbed into a palace toilet bowl. Of course, he did an interview, with NBC morning show Today. “She’s on great form,” he said of the Queen. “She’s always got a great sense of humour with me.” She would need to, given all the drama. He added, enigmatically, “I’m just making sure that she’s protected and got the right people around her.” Hmm. What could he mean? It’s hard to imagine anyone around her who has done the royals more irreparable damage than Prince Andrew even if, for some reason, relatively harmless Harry cops more outrage. Harry talked about “trying to help”, to “use the platform, the influence, to try and steer people…” He didn’t say which people he was trying to steer, or where.

He feels he must protect the Queen. Well, as a lad he probably felt helpless to protect his mum. Still, it was unnervingly reminiscent of Will Smith at the Oscars, talking about protecting his wife, the actresses on his movie, making himself a vessel for love, etc.

Diana said in her interview that she wanted to be queen of people’s hearts. Goodness knows what Harry wants, except for a repeatedly stated insistence on what sounds like Game of Thrones-league security. Diana’s presence was, as always, present. “It’s almost as if she’s done her bit with my brother,” mused Harry ominously. “She’s got him set up and now she’s helping me set up.” In a way she has set him up. The interviewer asked, kindly, if he felt at peace.

Royals can, traditionally have, and really should, given their track record, avoid speaking off-script in public, other than to inquire, “How far have you come?”

For politicians, it’s required. Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, had a shocker with his comment to the mother of a boy with autism. “Jenny and I have been blessed. We have two children that don’t … haven’t had to go through that,” he blurted. To be blessed implies some sort of divine favour received. You wonder how much of the royals’ problems come from historically embedded “divine right of kings” thinking. It implies a world view that sees the righteous rewarded and others deservedly punished. A world view where people with disabled children have failed to be blessed.

Here, Christopher Luxon has discovered that referring to part of the electorate as “bottom feeders” or proposing getting rid of the one workers’ public holiday to “pay” for Matariki is not going to get anyone blessed. On Tova O’Brien’s Today show, he declared, with what sounded like divine authority, “We’re through Covid.” What does he mean?

To err is human. To forgive is compassionate, if unlikely on Twitter, especially now someone else who acts as if he might think he has the divine right of kings has bought it for an obscene sum.

In 2018 a prophetic Forbes article reported that a survey of 511 American Christians yielded a composite picture of what God looks like. It turns out He — of course He was a “he” — looks a bit like Elon Musk. God help us.

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