Exclusive: The downfall of Prince Harry & Meghan Markle
With festival season just around the corner, it is fitting that Prince Harry’s Worldwide Privacy Tour is coming to a climax. The Duke played... With festival season just around the corner, it is fitting that Prince Harry’s Worldwide Privacy Tour is coming to a climax. The Duke played to a jam-packed High Court crowd last

With festival season just around the corner, it is fitting that Prince Harry’s Worldwide Privacy Tour is coming to a climax. The Duke played…

With festival season just around the corner, it is fitting that Prince Harry’s Worldwide Privacy Tour is coming to a climax. The Duke played to a jam-packed High Court crowd last week. They were keen to hear the latest solipsistic stream-of-unconsciousness of our tormented troubadour.

For two years now, Harry has – sometimes with his wife, sometimes flying solo – bleated, neighed and whinnied in interviews, books, Netflix documentaries and talk shows. He has chased media exposure in a way that made Kim Kardashian look like Greta Garbo. Now, here was the big gig, with the world’s media outside the packed venue and helicopters hovering overhead. But would this be his Glastonbury Main Stage triumph – or his Altamont, the final demise of his credibility?

Not since 1891 when the future Edward VII – then Prince of Wales – was involved in both a divorce and a card-cheating scandal has a member of the royal family given witness in a court case. In 2002, the Princess Royal did plead guilty at Slough Magistrates’ Court after a dog-biting incident in Windsor Great Park, but such is the fond attitude in this country to both dogs and the Princess Royal that it probably did her reputation no harm whatsoever.

Courts of law are anathema to royals, being the opposite of the monarchial mantra ‘Never complain, never explain’; to win a legal case you need to be prepared to do both, over and over. In his two days in court, Prince Harry certainly gave it his best shot.

‘I do not believe that as a witness it’s my job to deconstruct the article,’ he sniffed haughtily at one point. Get you, Jacques Derrida!

The exercise started out as something which Katie Price in her pomp would likely be involved in; tabloid phone-tapping, denials of ‘cavorting’ and umpteen ‘sources’ stirring the pot. But it ended up a David vs Goliath epic, with dark uttering of blood on hands and rock bottom governments; this wasn’t just personal – it was political, spiritual, all the big ‘als’.

Harry posed as a steel-true and blade-straight campaigner for truth and justice, a King Arthur-like figure returned to Albion to save his waiting people from the ‘vile’ media. It’s unfortunate optics that his crusade began when he ‘bumped into’ ‘lovely barrister’ David Sherborne in the south of France while holidaying with Elton John and David Furnish. But don’t you dare call him a playboy prince!

Everyone, it soon transpired, had an opinion. John Cleese. Diana’s brother. Caroline Flack’s mother. To complete the crazy carnival atmosphere, here was the ex-pop star Brian Harvey, outside the court brandishing a giant copy of an email from a News Of The World journalist to the police, concerning conversations between Harvey and an alleged drug dealer which led to his arrest. Apart from being a member of East 17, Harvey is famous for once running himself over, fracturing his pelvis in seven places, breaking his ribs and puncturing his lungs. He later blamed the incident on three baked potatoes.

But the farce outside the court was still no match for what was playing out inside in Harry’s case against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN). Harry’s moth-eaten memory was on full display; the bleak utterances of ‘My minds’s gone blank’, admitting ‘I don’t know’ 18 times, replying ‘I don’t remember’ nine times and telling Andrew Green KC, the lawyer for MGN, ‘I’ll take your word for it’.

He claimed to be compelled to live up to the media image of him: ‘The playboy prince, the thicko, the cheat, the irresponsible drug-taker…I thought that if they are printing this rubbish about me and people were believing it, I may as well ‘do the crime’, so to speak.’ As his sainted mum might have said – after sighing, spitting on a hanky and scrubbing at his little face – if she was still here: ‘If Piers Morgan told you to neck some Molly and jump off a cliff while singing ‘Ebenezer Goode’, would you do it?’

There was an odd glitch in the narrative here. Harry says that he had been shielded by the Palace from unfavourable tabloid coverage while growing up – hence the delay in bringing action over a series of events which took place decades ago. But he also says he felt compelled to live up/down to the tabloid portrayal of him. Which is it? It can’t be both. Unless…whoah! Time travel! Aliens! Stop hogging that spliff, man!

There was more funny stuff; though not quite up to Her Maj’s ‘recollections may vary’, I liked Andrew Green KC’s: ‘Are we not, Prince Harry, in the realms of total speculation?’ which I plan to use on fibbing friends in future.

Harry posed as a steel-true and blade-straight campaigner for truth and justice

‘I do not believe that as a witness it’s my job to deconstruct the article,’ he sniffed haughtily at one point. Get you, Jacques Derrida! Before he met his ghost-writer, he probably thought deconstruction was something you had to wear a hard-hat to do.

As for ‘I’m quite busy with other litigation, my lord’; that will become my go-to for getting out of boring engagements.

Reading the prince’s words – and matching them to that more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger bleat we all know so well by now – I found myself for the first time feeling slightly sorry for Meghan Markle. If I look at all the friends I’ve fallen out with down the years, though vastly different people, they’ve all had in common the stink of sanctimoniousness. It really is the whiffiest of all the non-criminal vices. I could easily live with a liar and/or a cheat – I’ve been both myself – but I could never live with a sanctimonious type.

The Sussexes make me think of those poor conjoined twins one occasionally sees images of. Though sometimes both live when they’re separated, one of them generally is the stronger and the other one fades away.

Prince Harry and the USA are not a natural fit; their nepo-babies get mocked on the cover of New York magazine; ours are long to reign over us. There has been goodwill towards him for ‘choosing’ an American bride, but I don’t imagine it will last much longer. Patriotic Yanks will recall that he called the First Amendment ‘bonkers’. But really, what is ‘bonkers’ about protecting freedom of speech, the press, assembly and the right to petition the government? What sort of country doesn’t have or want these basic human rights? The sort of country Prince Harry would prefer to live in, one suspects.

For all his highfalutin talk – ‘Democracy fails when your press fails to scrutinise and hold the government accountable and instead chooses to get into bed with them so they can ensure the status quo’ – it’s not hard to conclude that he doesn’t want democracy but rather the divine right of kings – and princes – as Brendan O’Neill recently pointed out here.

Of course, the usual geek-chorus have been out in full, with an over-excited Owen Jones mentioning him in the breath as Tony Benn. But when he says he wants to ‘change’ journalism, isn’t this too some kind of egomania from a man who had the most expensive education money could buy, yet limped through his A-Levels with a B in Art and a D in geography? It’s like me claiming that I’m going to ‘change’ polo-playing.

What he really wants, I’d wager, is to make journalism into a branch of PR – and for all of us hacks to approach him in the manner of a Groom of the Stool, as he has become accustomed to through the likes of Omid Scobie. In the meantime, what is Saint George without a dragon – and what is a playboy prince without a poisonous press?

Prince Harry has been many things; lover, fighter, father, husband, knocker-back of copious Crack-Baby cocktails at Boobie’s nightclub. But more than anything, he is a man who has decided to tie his own legs together – and then berate the universe ad infinitum for making him hop.

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