“Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time.”
No, that wasn’t Prince William talking. This is a quote from Prince Harry in an exclusive interview with Newsweek. Harry granted the news magazine access to observe his daily life over part of the past year.
What’s going on?
I don’t think Harry meant to sound apathetic, but there you have it. This does not bode well in the wake of William and Kate moving to Kensington Palace only when their 96-year-old grandfather retired. Can you believe that? Prince Philip had to officially hang up his hat before the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would stay permanently in London for more work. The term reluctant doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Then Harry continues: “It’s a tricky balancing act,” he says to Newsweek. “We don’t want to dilute the magic….The British public and the whole world need institutions like it.”
Now Harry’s making me wonder. After all of his great work with Invictus and wounded soldiers, Harry’s obviously no slouch for being fifth in line. So is he trying to tell us that he doesn’t want to be king, but might have to be and he will carry on because that’s what you do. The fact that his brother and his sister-in-law seem, at best, tense about their increasing duties, I can’t help but think there’s a lot in going on in private and these comments are popping out because of it.
Somebody better do something soon, because when Harry himself is talking reluctance, we’re looking at a harsh reality: if no royal is interested in that “top job”, then why should the rest of us be? If you really want to preserve that magic (thank you, Walter Bagehot), then don’t sound so dismayed. Call a royal family meeting and figure out who will step aside/step in and then get on with it. The public will thank you for making a damn decision already, instead of the constant off putting “at the right time” or we’re “keen” to eventually do things, etc.
If I sound unsympathetic, I am. For two reasons:
1.) Kate joined the monarchy after a ten-year courtship and was slowly eased into what it entails. The Queen obviously allowed breathing room so Kate could find her footing and so William could live more quietly with his little family. However, given the ages of the Queen and Philip (not to mention Prince Charles), Kate and William couldn’t possibly have expected their “quiet life” to last too long. If they fear or resent that, time to reconsider their options.
2.) Nowhere have I found references to King George VI going on public tirades on how his brother dropped him, unprepared, into kingship. Nor have we read about Elizabeth II complaining in interviews about her role as queen perhaps starting too early (age twenty-five, for the record) or how much of a burden it is on her children. They. Just. Got. On. With. It. That’s why the monarchy has been so successful so far, and the younger generation needs to realize that.
Let us look at a page from the excellent book The Monarchy: An Oral Biography of Elizabeth II.
[Click the image to enlarge]
Funny, I didn’t see one thing about hesitation or complaining in the media. If William, Kate, or Harry are so damn uncomfortable taking the lead in upholding that royal magic and doing as the Queen has done, then stand aside for someone else in the family to do it sooner rather than later. Nothing kills the magic like a great big yawn from the public, and that’s not how you show respect for your grandmother or her institution.
God Save the Queen.