Why did Prince Harry snub Queen and country?
Prince Harry pressed the "nuclear button" on his royal career on Wednesday.
In doing so he simultaneously delivered a hammer blow to the Queen, his close family and the entire institution of the monarchy.
And it came as a profound and juddering shock, as he didn’t have the courtesy to warn any of them in advance.
In a statement dripping with sanctimony and shot through vapid jargon, he and his wife declared their intention to ‘transition’ to a ‘progressive new role’.
In brief, it appeared to mean they remain partially tied to the Royal Family but will also pursue money-making projects outside it, in order to forge an independent income for themselves.
Somehow, they will ‘continue to honour our duty to the Queen’, while spending half their time in North America – where they will have ‘space’ to raise their son and launch their new ‘charitable entity’.
To them, it is ‘an exciting next step’. To most of us, it sounds like having your cake and eating it. They want the status of being ‘senior’ Royals but the privacy and freedom of being private citizens.
Since the heartbreaking sight of him as a small boy, distraught and bewildered, behind his mother’s coffin, Harry has had a special place in the nation’s heart.
The public forgave his youthful (and some not so youthful) indiscretions, and his distinguished military service added an intense pride to their existing affection.
But this act of self-indulgence throws all that goodwill into the hazard.
We know from bitter experience how Royals seeking to make money from their associations can so easily bring the family into disrepute.
Just look at the follies committed by Prince Andrew and his wife in their desperation to fill their personal coffers. There are plenty of billionaires out there only too willing to bankroll a senior Royal. But there is always a price to pay. And it’s never pleasant.
Of course, it has been clear for some time that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were unhappy with the public scrutiny their public roles entail.
They accuse the media of hounding them, yet have had far more praise and adulation than admonition from the Press and TV. The problem is they bridle so badly at any hint of criticism.
But as the son and daughter-in-law of the heir to the throne, public curiosity about their lives comes with the territory. That will not end in this ‘progressive new role’. Indeed, it is likely to intensify.
They clearly feel as if they are living in some sort of gilded cage and yearn for freedom. Yet they will continue to live at Frogmore, which is a royal residence, and presumably benefit from other family perks and police protection.
Perhaps the saddest part of this announcement is that it dashes the nation’s hopes that Harry and Meghan could have helped ease the Royal Family smoothly into the 21st century.
Less than two years ago, their dream wedding seemed to be a massive fillip to a monarchy in danger of becoming old and a little stuffy. This golden couple had huge appeal to the younger generation.
On her foreign tours and at home the Duchess, a modern Hollywood beauty, was hugely popular – something of a breath of fresh air.
But something changed. Instead of embracing their roles, they gradually backed away from them, culminating in their recent six-week ‘sabbatical’.
Now, instead of enhancing the future of the monarchy, they risk causing it incalculable damage.
The supreme irony is that they constantly claim to honour and respect the Queen. By making this very public statement, they undermine her and everything she stands for – duty and selfless public service.Daily Mail