Bryony Gordon and Prince Harry have been friends for years. Gordon is a journalist, but she’s more of an advocate-journalist, and she specializes in reporting and interviews around mental health. Gordon and Harry did work on Heads Together, and Gordon has been one of the few British journalists to talk in real terms about who Meghan and Harry really are and what they’re like. Well, Gordon was invited to Montecito to interview Harry for the Telegraph. It’s an excellent piece and I would recommend reading it in full. Harry really opens up to her again, and this interview was conducted just a day or two before Spare was released (and the British media was leaking everything they could about it).
He’s worried about the other Windsor spares: “If I see wrongdoing and a pattern of behaviour that is harming people, I will do everything I can to try and change it.” He worries about the other “spares” in the family. “As I know full well, within my family, if it’s not us,” and at this he points at his chest, “it’s going to be someone else. And though William and I have talked about it once or twice, and he has made it very clear to me that his kids are not my responsibility, I still feel a responsibility knowing that out of those three children, at least one will end up like me, the spare. And that hurts, that worries me.”
He knows any chance of reconciliation is unlikely at the moment. “What I’ve realised is that you don’t make any friends, especially within your family, because everyone has learned to accept that trauma [as] part of life. How dare you, as an individual, talk about it, because that makes us all feel really uncomfortable? So right, you may not like me in the moment, but maybe you’ll thank me in five or 10 years time.”
He’s not playing the victim: “Lots of people go through lots of s–t. It’s interesting because so many of those moments have made me the man I am today. Would I encourage Archie to stick his head inside a carcass? Probably not. But people who’ve experienced trauma deal with it in different ways. I think when it comes to me and William, the fascinating part is that we both experienced a similar traumatic experience. He wanted to talk about it when [we were] younger, which built up a little bit of resentment. It wasn’t anything against him, I just didn’t want to talk about it. And then as we got older, I started to go slightly off the rails, and deal with it through drinking and drugs, and he went completely silent and completely shut down. And then my life started to alter and completely change, because I wanted, or had no other choice, than to confront the very thing that I had been running from, or scared of, for all those years.”
Therapy & psychedelics: “After taking ayahuasca with the proper people. I suddenly realised – wow! – it’s not about the crying. She [Diana] wants me to be happy. So this weight off my chest was not the need to cry, it was the acceptance and realisation that she has gone, but that she wants me to be happy and that she’s very much present in my life. And now, as two brothers, if one of you goes through that experience and the other one doesn’t, it naturally creates a further divide between you. Which is really sad. But as much as William was the first person to even suggest therapy, I just wish that he would be able to feel the same benefits of that as opposed to believing what he doesn’t need to.” (Harry claims that William thinks therapy has made him delusional.)
After all the books written about him, he has no apologies about telling his story himself: “But I always say: ‘What’s the difference between airing lies about your family through the British press, or airing truth through a book?’ In my case, this is all contained in one place where I hold myself entirely accountable and responsible for what I am saying.
Criticizing the institution: “I don’t see why it’s so ingrained [in society] that whatever happens in your family, you should never talk about it. That no matter what’s happened, I can’t do this. But they [the Royal family] can? Because of who they are and what they represent? The way I was brought up is that, as a member of the Royal family, you lead by example. So you shouldn’t be able to use that privilege to get away with more things. No institution is immune to criticism and scrutiny, and if only 10 per cent of the scrutiny that was put on me and M was put on this institution, we wouldn’t be in this mess right now….It’s so dirty. It’s so dark. And it will continue and it will carry on and I look forward to the day when we are no longer part of it, but I worry about who’s next.”
Family secrets: He says he knows that the press “have got a s–t-tonne of dirt about my family. I know they have, and they sweep it under the carpet for juicy stories about someone else.” He tells me about some of the darkest moments in 2019. “I was coming back to Frogmore after Archie was born, and I would walk into the nursery and there she [Meghan] was in floods of tears, tears dripping on Archie while she was breast-feeding him. That was a breaking point for me. And she is someone who doesn’t read the stories. She would be dead if she was reading the stories.”
Saving the Windsors from themselves: “This is not about trying to collapse the monarchy, this is about trying to save them from themselves. And I know that I will get crucified by numerous people for saying that.”
His mission: “I feel like this is my life’s mission, to right the wrongs of the very thing that drove us out. Because it took my mum, it took Caroline Flack, who was my girlfriend, and it nearly took my wife. And if that isn’t a good enough reason to use the pain and turn it into purpose, I don’t know what it is.”
He has enough for another book: He tells me that the first draft was 800 pages, whereas the finished manuscript is just over 400. “It could have been two books, put it that way.”
He left out a lot of sh-t with William & Charles: “And there were other bits that I shared with JR, that I said: ‘Look, I’m telling you this for context but there’s absolutely no way I’m putting it in there.’… There are some things that have happened, especially between me and my brother, and to some extent between me and my father, that I just don’t want the world to know. Because I don’t think they would ever forgive me. Now you could argue that some of the stuff I’ve put in there, well, they will never forgive me anyway. But the way I see it is, I’m willing to forgive you for everything you’ve done, and I wish you’d actually sat down with me, properly, and instead of saying I’m delusional and paranoid, actually sit down and have a proper conversation about this, because what I’d really like is some accountability. And an apology to my wife.”
“No institution is immune to criticism and scrutiny, and if only 10 percent of the scrutiny that was put on me and M was put on this institution, we wouldn’t be in this mess right now…” Oof. That and “he knows that the press ‘have got a s–t-tonne of dirt about my family.’” That’s something that I’ve found slightly interesting although not that surprising – in the immediate aftermath of Spare, there is no big, British figure – a historian or journalist – saying “you know what, we actually should scrutinize the monarchy more.” No one is doing that because these royal reindeer games are a billion-dollar industry. I wish some of them would realize what Omid Scobie has realized: that there’s a billion-dollar industry in covering the monarchy’s death rattle, in really examining the institutional dysfunction and corruption.
As for Harry’s concerns about the next generation’s spares – Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – it’s almost too late, because the narratives have already started to take hold. George is already separated from his siblings for special privileges and attention, all while his siblings are being cast as his foils.
Also: I really want Harry to write a second memoir. DO IT!!
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Instagram.