Prince Harry’s memoir and promotional tour must be enormously cathartic for him. To finally be able to write and speak on the record, at long last, to create a historical record of what happened, who said what, and what he wants now. While the royalists have spent weeks crying about Harry’s memoir and interviews, it actually seems like he’s walked the knife’s edge very well about most subjects, namely his willingness to reconcile. He has firmly put the ball in his father’s court and (to mix metaphors) Harry is allowing the chips to fall where they may. Harry’s done, he’s said his piece, he got all of this on the record. Now it’s time for his family to react. And their reactions are telling. Over the weekend, people in Charles’s office floated the idea of “peace talks” before the coronation. The reaction from the British commentary class was wall-to-wall rage at the very idea of a father and son making peace. They seem outraged by the idea that Charles might acknowledge that Harry has made some good points. As I said, telling. So now the “peace talks” narrative is being swept away. From the Daily Beast’s Royalist:
No peace talks: Reports of an imminent reconciliation meeting between King Charles and Prince Harry have been greatly exaggerated, a friend of Charles has told The Daily Beast. Despite the fact that Charles has made it clear that, as courtiers are always at pains to insist, he “loves both his sons” the idea that Charles is going to sit down for a cup of Earl Grey with Meghan and Harry before the coronation, as suggested in reports this weekend, has friends of the king and queen doubtfully shaking their heads. “It’s wishful thinking,” one friend of the couple told The Daily Beast.
Harry broke Charles’s confidentiality: Indeed the book opens with a detailed account of a “secret” meeting with Charles and William, called by Harry, in a graveyard, after the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral. It’s hard to see how Charles could attend a private meeting with his youngest son (or indeed write to or even call him) without assuming notes were being taken—and might well later be served up to the public in a sequel to the best-selling book.
A war in King Charles’s court: The story in The Sunday Times [by Roya Nikkhah] was fascinating to seasoned observers not so much because what the source suggested may (or may not) come to pass, but because it shows clear evidence of factionalism in the court of King Charles. There is, we must assume, a voluble group within the palace who want Charles to seek peace with Harry. Derided as “palace wets” by GB News presenter Dan Wootton, the theme was also taken up by author Tom Bower, who said that at a recent dinner party Charles had expressed a reluctance to confront and admonish Harry. (Both Wootton and Bower are relentless critics of Harry and Meghan.) Bower urged him to act more harshly. Charles is unlikely to do so; confronting Harry and escalating the row might please Bower, but it would delight the publishers of Harry’s book.
Silence is the only option: A source told The Daily Beast’s Clive Irving: “Silence is the only course open to them, and it has been effective so far, in that now, at last, at least over here, the story is subsiding. The king is genuinely fond of his son, and wishes to keep the door open for him. By not responding he does not fuel the argument.” Irving’s source captures accurately the Royalist’s understanding of the mood at the palace (Charles’ office declined to comment for this article, as did Harry’s) where, The Daily Beast understands, the original decision to say nothing and not engage with the Sussexes, is being seen as having been borne out by events to be correct.
Do nothing: If anything, the do-nothing position is hardening. It’s not hard to see why when the other options are so unpalatable: setting up a peace summit with Harry or aggressively cutting him out of the family by, for example, stripping him of his titles, could both easily serve to oxygenate the inferno rather than smother it. Much better to just keep on keeping on, runs the thinking of many. As one insider told The Daily Beast last week, it’s about letting actions speak louder than words… Harry may want an apology, but there is no indication that Charles is feeling under any pressure to provide one. But Harry has now painted himself into a corner by suggesting he won’t come to the coronation without an apology. He probably shouldn’t hold his breath.
Power, control, abuse, incompetence, optics, internecine war, leadership… all of these issues are the undercurrents of this particular royal situation. I believe Charles does have warring factions within his court, within his cadre of advisors and sycophants. I believe that one faction did float the “peace talks” idea to Charles and to the Times. But the other faction is listening to Dan Wootton, Tom Bower, Jeremy Clarkson and Piers Morgan. This other faction wants nothing more than to degrade, humiliate and destroy the Sussexes. As I said at the beginning – Harry has put this all on Charles. Harry has described his terms repeatedly and publicly. It’s up to Charles to make a decision and Charles refuses to. That’s the real story, that’s what no one can say out loud: Charles is dithering, Charles doesn’t know what to do. As Diana said in the Panorama interview: “I would think that the top job, as I call it, would bring enormous limitations to him, and I don’t know whether he could adapt to that.”
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images.