A cup of tea with Prince Harry
I went to Montecito to talk to the most famous man in the world right now about therapy, family dynamics, and finally finding your voice.
It’s been a busy start to 2023. I’ve already cleaned out the guinea pig hutch (twice), waited in a GP surgery for hours to get my daughter antibiotics for an ear infection (from which she has thankfully recovered), and flown to California and back to interview Prince Harry (as you do). Luckily for you, I’ve decided to properly launch my Substack with a post featuring that interview, and not my views on the best guinea pig bedding.
You may have noticed that Prince Harry - or Haz, as I have called him ever since our first interview back in 2017 - has a book out. It’s called Spare. Last week, I went to his home in Montecito to chat to him about it. We have a long working friendship, born out of a mutual passion for talking about mental health issues, and he has agreed to the interview for this Substack. No pressure for my next post!
So here is my chat with Haz, which took place over an afternoon at his home in Montecito, California. I hope you find it interesting, and that it gives you lots to think about.
Me: I think you would have to be cold-blooded to read this book and not be immensely moved. The thing that really came out to me is that you are someone who has had their voice silenced their whole life. People have spoken for you, people have written books about you…
Harry: Totally. I don’t know what the number [of books] is, but I think it’s in three figures.
So it seems churlish not to allow you to write your side of the story. And in doing so you go from being a sort of fairytale prince to a real person. I don’t know you that well, but what I do know of you, I felt really came across in the book.
But you probably feel you know me more than most, because we’ve had a couple of interactions here and there!
Well yeah, fair point. I felt your voice coming through
My life has been turbulent and adventurous [laughs at understatement], all in one. I don’t view any of the things that have happened… I view the things that have happened to me as lessons learnt. Right? And that’s going right back to losing my mum.
At the beginning, I didn’t want to talk about it. As you and I both know, society as a whole doesn’t really encourage you to talk about grief and loss. When you put a lid on these things, they snowball within you. When I started doing therapy in my early thirties, I began to realise that the person I thought I was, wasn’t truly me. I was numb. What I hope I’ve proved throughout this whole journey of mine - which is obviously still continuing - is that actually you can be strong and be vulnerable at the same time. I take so much strength in being vulnerable.
I used to take huge offence at the idea that I might have changed, and when people blamed Meghan. I would think ‘no I haven’t changed, I’m still the same person!’. But I’m not. Of course I changed, I did therapy. I had a moment in my life, after 10 years military service which kind of burst the bubble, and made me realise ‘well hang on a second, you’re part of something here, this institution, and you feel very different’. Again, I am my mother’s son. Consistent therapy gave me a chance to clear, untangle and unwind… it was like clearing the windscreen. Clearing away all of Instagram’s filters, life’s filters.
Clearing away the masks that we put on to survive?
The masks, yeah. I never understood that. I didn’t walk around thinking ‘shit this isn’t me, I don’t feel normal to me’. I felt totally normal, as I guess most of us do. But if you’re sitting on unresolved grief, loss or trauma, there’s a high possibility that the way you interact and behave with people is probably not very authentic and not genuine to you. It’s a defence mechanism. You’re not living an authentic life because you’re scared of meeting one of those moments [of grief] again. So you just close up. That’s what I was, I was closed up. William was the same, we were both closed up. Therapy completely changed my life. As did being in a relationship with a mixed race woman. It blew my mind. I had an education..
In that it opened you up to stuff you just didn’t know about?
I had no idea. I thought that travelling the Commonwealth and doing the role that I did, you couldn’t be more travelled and more cultured, surely? I quickly realised that I wasn’t cultured, at all.
When you take a member of the royal family, and you put them through therapy, of course there’s going to be a difference. It’s like we were speaking different languages. We could not understand each other after that. Before there were always complications, issues, or whatever. I often had this sense that things didn’t feel right. Therapy opened my eyes, cleared away all the gunk, and the shit, and all of a sudden, I was like ‘this has been a really painful process, and I now realise that for the rest of my life, every single day is going to be a work in progress, but I can’t leave my family behind’. And that’s when I started trying to explain to them how some of their decisions and some of the things they were doing - or not doing - was going to reflect on them. Badly. Especially across the global stage, especially across the Commonwealth, with relation to my now wife. And I couldn’t get through to them. And it wasn’t one or two people that I was trying to get through to. It was a mindset. It was a culture, within a bubble within a bubble, that while I was there was unbreakable. It wasn’t that I gave up, but I do feel as if I failed in that instance, trying to bring them with me. But as we all know, anyone who has done therapy, the hardest thing in life is to be able to change yourself, let alone change anybody else.
When I got sober, my therapist in rehab talked to me about this theory that all dysfunctional families are like a mobile over a child’s cot. Every member of the family has a specific role to play - the black sheep, the golden child, the clown - that keeps the mobile balanced. The moment someone rejects that role and says ‘hang on, I’m not sure I want to do this anymore’, the whole thing tips on its side…
It’s exactly the same analogy that my therapist here brought up with me! I’d never heard it before, but it’s so true. And when it gets out of sync, they [the family] do everything they can to pull you back in. I have been referred to as a cycle breaker, I didn’t know what that meant. But yes, if I am someone who is trying to ensure that this generational handing down of trauma stops at me, then I guess that makes me a cycle breaker.
You’re definitely a cycle breaker.
What I realised is that you don’t make any friends, especially within your family, because everyone has learned to accept that trauma is 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 ten years time.
But as I know, full well, within my family, if it’s not us [points at 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. I know that out of those three children, at least one will end up like me, the spare. And that hurts, it worries me.
I am someone who likes to fix things. If I see wrongdoing and a pattern of behaviour that is harming people, I will do everything I can to try and change it. And that may not be agreed upon at that time, but I am coming at this with such long term, strategic thinking. 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 saying that.
One of the themes across the interviews is: how can you say you want your brother and father back, surely writing a book is not the way of going about it? And my answer to that is: I’ve tried everything I can! It’s as if they don’t want reconciliation, because keeping us as the villains, and keeping the press focused on us, helps detract from everything else that’s going on within that family. That’s one part of it. But also, my technique here, at this point - because I do genuinely want my father and my brother back in my life as opposed to what it is now, which is, it couldn’t be worse - is that the more I can bring the relationship between the press and the palace to light, the higher the chance is of that ceasing completely, and therefore protecting other members of the family. Because again if it’s not us, it’s someone else. And I know I’m not going to make friends in that process. But I also don’t understand how so much of what has happened from one version, one side of this story, how me telling the other side, the truthful side, is so shocking and outrageous.
Maybe this is the same for you Bryony and I don’t know, but within my family and within everything that I’ve ever been taught, writing a book is an absolute no. You must never, ever, ever write a book. It’s not about the content, it’s about the fact that you have written a book. But what is worse? Feeding continual lies, through anonymous sources, through the press, to create millions and millions of words, spun in a way to try to destroy your reputation or your character, or that of your wife?
Which in turn creates a lot of hateful rhetoric…
Hateful. As well as feeding into endless books, right? Endless books, again anonymously. And never being held accountable for the words and actions that you are feeding into? Or at some point in your life, at the age of 38, going ‘you know what? Enough.’ And being brave enough to stand behind those words, and correct the narrative, for your own mental health, for the sake of your wife and yourself and your family, hoping, for the love of God, that this puts a stop to it? When we left we genuinely thought we would be left alone. And that was so naive.
You really thought you’d be able to go to Canada and just get on with your life?
Well the first idea, the first plan, as we made very clear through that Instagram statement, almost exactly three years to the day, the proposal was, we’d like to separate our time between Canada and the UK. We still want to work within the institution, we just want to carve out a different role where we are financially independent, to remove the supposed public interest argument for the press, which is if you are tax payer funded, then your whole life is owned by us. Naturally because of the media’s role in this, our exit was misrepresented, our proposal was misrepresented within the institution, and that was incredibly damaging and sad. They [the royal family] scuppered that whole plan, mainly, sadly, through their need to financially control us, the jealousy, and this unfortunate situation whereby us just existing outside of their control is somehow problematic for them. And that’s the saddest part about it, that there was an opportunity for us to continue to work for them and with them, just we could not stand having to be stuck in the UK whereby every single element of our worth went through the filter of the British tabloids, and where we knew that the very people who were supposed to protect us were complicit in all of the stories that were literally destroying my wife in front of my very eyes, to the point that I was coming back from London to Frogmore after Archie was born, and I would walk into the nursery and there she was in floods of tears, tears dripping on Archie while she was breastfeeding him. That was a breaking point for me. And there is someone [Meghan] who doesn’t read the stories. She would be dead if she was reading the stories. She was still getting texts from friends, saying ‘I hope you’re ok, I’ve seen the news’ and that was enough because she just knew that if her friends, who very rarely reached out in that context, if they were reaching out then she knew it was bad. So what are you supposed to do? As a boyfriend, I raised the alarm. As a husband, I raised the alarm. As a dad, I raised the alarm. And if people had listened, this never would have happened. That’s the saddest part about it, it was all so avoidable, but they just couldn’t help themselves.
I’m sorry that this is what you’ve had to go through
Lots of people go through lots of shit. My hope is that by telling this story and sharing so much of it, with the context, it empowers people to be able to share their own story, and encourages them to remove themselves out of any situation that is either toxic, uncomfortable or otherwise.
The other thing that comes through, is just the sheer misogyny, the misogynoir of this…
I mentioned it in front of my brother and he said 'you don’t even know what misogyny’ means. I was like ‘I do now because of the girlfriend that I’m dating’. I think what’s going to be shocking for so many people who haven’t necessarily followed closely my story, or our story, is this idea that William and I were literally…
Best friends, joined at the hip, and it’s all her [Meghan’s] fault. Whereas you realise in the book, no, we had completely separate lives
And in many ways you were being thrown to the wolves, or the press, when you were a kid as well…
Yeah, but I wasn’t aware of that.
When you are 16, there’s the story about you smoking drugs, and then there’s the stuff with the art teacher who says she helped you cheat in your exams…
With the exam stuff, that’s a hard one. I still don’t know how that came about. I think that was more the individual at Eton that was causing the problem. But yes, you’re right, the palace chooses who to protect and when.
I hear people say ‘what do two millionaires living in Montecito have to do with me during a cost of living crisis’, and I always say ‘well everything really, because there has been this total normalisation of hatred when it comes to them’. In the book, you talk about royals being like insects, and what fun we, the media, have, pulling your wings off. But that’s something we see not just with royals, or in the media, but everywhere in life now. Kids are being bullied on social media. Trolls abound. It permeates, and it trickles down. Whenever I write something in defence of you, I get abuse. I got an email recently calling me a ‘fat Jewish b*tch’. It’s mad. It’s just mad. And I hate that the word ‘woke’ has been turned into an insult.
Only the British press could turn a word that really everyone should want to be, into a criticism.
It’s a word that was created by African Americans in the fifties and sixties, to describe being alert to racism and social injustice, and it’s been co-opted mostly by white men as an insult. You almost couldn’t make it up.
It’s fear. So much of it is fear of them losing control. It’s not personal, what my wife represents is what these people are attacking. It’s symbolic annihilation. In a nutshell. Because none of these people have met her, she hasn’t done anything wrong, she’s literally turned up and done the best job she can, which is probably where she went wrong.
I know that the press have got a shit tonne of dirt about my family, I know they have, and they sweep it under the carpet for juicy stories about someone else. I know that M was being used as a catalyst for a culture war. So many people don’t want to see it, or can’t see it, because everywhere you look, you’re getting the same message. And that’s probably the most dangerous thing. Even if you say you don’t read the tabloids, it’s still leaving an imprint in your mind.
Can we talk a bit about the reaction to you having therapy, and members of your family accusing you of being brainwashed and delusional because of it? I think that’s quite a common family reaction when one person gets therapy.
It’s great that you say that, because a lot of people will go ‘I can’t believe he’s said that about his brother, that’s going to destroy his mental health campaign’. It’s like, no but there needs to be a larger conversation about that. I’ve spent two years struggling, at some times, to work out what I needed to put in [Spare], and what should stay out. And that has not been an easy process for me. But everything that I have in there, there is a purpose and a reason for it being in there. Because I believe it is relatable in some shape or form to other people around the world. It’s not specific to a British audience or an American audience, it should be a global conversation, just as much as people in the family asking questions such as ‘I wonder what their kids are going to look like’. You ask any mixed race couple in the world, they’ve probably gone through that. The only difference is would they say it behind your back, or would they say it to you? There were some bizarre things that were being said, I say bizarre because it wasn’t racist, it just shows the depth of unconscious bias. And I think that is such a worthwhile conversation to have, not just with me and my family, but globally. If you move it away from racism and start with unconscious bias, which every single one of us have, there is no blame or fault there. But the moment I point to you and say ‘you just showed some unconscious bias’, if you don’t want to learn and grow from that, then you are willingly saying that you want to remain part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Which then moves unconscious bias to racism.
And of course, I was called a racist because of two things that I did in my twenties. And now I’m being called woke. When I was being called a racist, they were telling me to sort my shit out, and now I’ve sorted my shit out, I’m woke? You can’t win. And that was almost like a weird blessing. Because the moment that we realised that we can’t win, we’re screwed if we do and we’re screwed if we don’t, all of a sudden that fear of control, or that control by fear, suddenly that’s removed. Suddenly you think ‘well, if we’re going to get criticised for this whether we do it or whether we don’t, maybe we should live a happy life for ourselves, because they’re going to say whatever they want anyway.’ Most of my life I was led to believe, and I believed, that your reputation was defined by the royal correspondents and the front pages of the newspapers. And that’s still what my family believe. So of course it’s much more advantageous to have all this shit written about us, when some of them haven’t had a negative article written about them for six years in some cases.
Can you talk to me about the process of actually writing the book with JR Moehringer. Choosing what to put in, and what not to, that tightrope walk of memoir. Also, one of the questions I have been asked a lot, as someone who has written a few deeply personal memoirs myself, is ‘does it feel cathartic?’
It was. It was definitely cathartic. It was painful at times. It was eye-opening. Because there were memories that I managed to pull up and over the wall that I had forgotten about, that I didn’t even know existed. And there were times when I scared the shit out of myself as well.
In what way?
For example, Afghanistan. There were moments that would take me back, I would sit and close my eyes. We did over 50 zoom calls together, and did a lot of sessions in here [the guest house we are in] as well. But in those zoom calls I would close my eyes and put myself back in the cockpit and fly those missions again. And JR was amazed by the level of detail that I could remember. Some bits were cloudy, about my earlier childhood, but I could remember rooms and things.
I was a completely open book to him. I told him to ask me whatever he wanted, and that I would tell him everything. And yes, the first draft was different. It was 800 pages. And now it’s down to 400 pages. It could have been two books, put it that way. And the hard bit was taking things out. My trip to Nepal in 2016 after the earthquake, that was a real moment for me, because it was a really reflective trip that led me into my relationship with Meghan. But that had to come out, there wasn’t space for it. So I was really sad with some of the bits that were taken out. And then there were other bits that I shared with JR, which I had to say ‘look, I’m telling you this just for context, but there’s absolutely no way I’m putting it in there.’
And why would you not put those bits in?
Because [Here he pauses]. Because on the scale of things I could include for family members, there were certain things that, look, anything I’m going to include about any of my family members I’m going to get trashed for, I knew that walking into it. But it’s impossible to tell my story without them in it, because they play such a crucial part in it. And also because you need to understand the characters and the personalities of everybody within the book. But 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 here, well they will never forgive me anyway. But the way that I see it is I’m willing to forgive you for everything you’ve done, and I wish you’d actually sit 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. Because you know what you did, and I now know why you did it. And you’ve been caught out, so just come clean, and then we could all move on. But the choice of what I kept in there, was specific to trying to paint a picture of who the individual is and what part they play and why they’ve reacted the way that they have, with compassion to their situation, because of their role within the hierarchy of the monarchy, and their relationship - or their office’s - relationship with the press. And that was all part of it. And the relationship between me and William was for many years a relationship between us. But then because of some people that he employed into the office, all of a sudden there was a third party to that. And you can’t have a relationship, a functioning relationship, built on trust, when anything you say, or anything you pass on to your team, ends up being spun for the benefit of that principal against the other principal, which in this case is two brothers.
The family is like a casting. It is like a combination between a soap opera and a pantomime. And everyone that comes into it, everyone in it has a role, normally a role that is defined by the British press, and I played into the very role that I was given. Falling out of clubs, drunk, attacking paparazzi. I hold myself fully responsible for that.
Meghan was cast in the role of difficult woman. As if the monarchy had never encountered a difficult person before.
But that's the thing. That’s the unconscious bias. You look back on the history of how many members of my family have shouted at staff, that apparently is all forgotten about and Meghan’s the bully? It’s like, what? No, no, no. The members of the family that are literally brought up within this construct, have some issues to deal with. But an outsider, not an outsider, someone from a normal life coming in, does not behave like the people are within. You only have to watch Succession to realise that. So the picture that the press tried to paint is: Harry’s a little bit naughty. A little bit cheeky, but he cares about his work, and he leads by his heart. Fair enough?
And then there’s Meghan, she’s got her own career, never been in the tabloids before, no skeletons in the closet, never had anything bad written about her, ever, and all of a sudden when we meet, we’re these narcissistic crazy deranged damaged people.
I think we need to stop bandying about the word narcissist so much.
Yeah but when I’ve seen it used, especially with us, it’s used by people with narcissistic tendencies. Which again is projection. And it all leads back to a few powerful - let’s not say powerful - influential white, older British men. So again it comes back to sexism. The misogynoir.
If my role is to stand up for my wife and other women, and to encourage other men to do the same, without them thinking that maybe that’s vulnerable or whatever, then I will continue the good fight and stand up for what I believe in, even more so now I have kids, because if you don’t lead by example, what is the point in living? There is so much toxic masculinity around the world right now. And I know that sometimes it’s easier to fall for the hatred, the negativity and the spin. It’s easier, and quicker. But I get so much more satisfaction from living by my principles and my values.
I think it’s a really interesting time globally, when people in positions like myself need to stand up to this. The more criticism that I get from a certain group of people, then the more I’m going to speak out. If I see bigotry, if I see racism, if I see sexism, then as a member of the British royal family, I feel obliged, and a tremendous responsibility, to call it out.
I really want to talk to you about more of your experiences with mental health, which you have written about so fearlessly in Spare. The most heartbreaking thing, for me, was reading about what happened immediately after you found out your mother had died. You genuinely believed she wasn’t dead, that she had disappeared, for an entire decade. Your brain went into a state of…
Shock. Shutdown. The magical thinking.
And then about two years after she has died, you go out on a shoot, and your head gets shoved in a deer carcass as part of some weird aristocratic rite of passage. And all I could think was ‘who is looking after this boy?’
But 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. And I think when it comes to me and William, the fascinating part is that we both experienced a similar traumatic experience. He went this way and wanted to talk about it when we were younger, I went the other way and didn’t want to talk about it when I was younger. Which built up a little bit of resentment. It wasn’t anything against him, I just didn’t want to talk about it, which again is so relatable for so many siblings and families around the world. And then as we got older, I started to go slightly off the rails, and deal with it through drinking and drugs, while 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, to confront the very thing that I had been running from, or scared of, for all those years.
But I wasn’t walking around thinking about my mother the whole time. I was doing everything humanly possible not to think about her. And therapy was the greatest thing to ever happen to me, other than my now wife. The process was revelatory, because we got to the point where I started to deal with my trauma. And started to confront the idea that mummy wanted me to cry. I convinced myself that she must have wanted me to cry. That’s the only way I can prove to her that I still miss her. But then after taking ayahuascha with the proper people, I suddenly realised - wow! - it’s not about crying, she 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 she’s still very much present in my life. 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.
Maybe you should have both gone on an ayahuascha trip together. How do you feel now? Let’s go back to the first question I ever asked you in an interview, way back in 2017!
For most of my life the response was ‘I’m fine’. I think we talked about that before. ‘I’m fine’ is the safest option, there’s no follow up question. It’s amazing how good we are at hiding it, right? People were like, ‘he was always happy, he was always smiling!'. Guess what? I hid it. And lots of people are able to hide it. In answer to your question, mentally, I’ve never ever been stronger than I am right now. The thing that was a saviour for me was my digital detox. My digital diet. Now I consume things online in the same way that I eat. I don’t look at that stuff, I know about some of it, and I do see some of it, but probably 10% of what I used to see. I can’t believe for all those years, especially between 2016 and 2018, that I was in it. I don’t regret being as in it as I was, I was reading stuff about myself but I was mainly reading stuff about Meghan, and not only did that inspire and encourage me to say ‘this is fundamentally wrong’, but I had the greatest education that I could have done. By reading some of the stories, seeing some of the responses and the replies. That set me up for where I am now.
And because of therapy, the way I explain it to myself is that all of the trauma, the grief, the sadness, the frustration, the anger, that has literally been cleaned out of me. It doesn’t mean I don’t get angry sometimes. It doesn’t mean I don’t get sad. It doesn’t mean I don’t get worried. All that is still there, these very normal, human emotions. But in regards to the baggage, and the past, now I’ve cleared that out, I feel like I have a new level of awareness and consciousness to everything about me. And I feel like, I wouldn’t say I feel invincible, but I feel like I can take on the world. And I feel like this is my life’s mission, my purpose, is to right the wrongs of that, 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 is. Some people will say ‘can’t you just leave it?’. And I think no, I can’t, because I know that other people are going to suffer.
Can I add that it almost took you as well?
You didn’t want to exist, and then when you met Meghan, you had an experience of…
I want to live.
Sometimes it takes something like that to make you realise how fundamentally unhappy you have been…
Yeah. I was never aware of how unhappy I was. I didn’t allow myself to think about it. I just got on with it and went to parties and don’t get me wrong, I had fun. But looking back on it now, it wasn’t fun fun. It was masking something. So yeah, Meghan introduced me to a life that I never knew existed. Then enter Archie and enter Lily, [he mimes a look of utter amazement].
I feel like my mum is my guardian angel, genuinely. When I look back at the things that have happened, instead of looking at it as a punishment, I try and ask myself what can I learn from this. How is the universe schooling me? So that when it happens next time, or when something similar happens, that I can be better prepared for it. And when you’re trying to change an institution, and fundamentally the media landscape, that is not a small task. The scale of the challenge is enormous and I have to be able to protect myself mentally and emotionally throughout that process.
There might be people thinking ‘what gives you the right to change the media?’
I don’t think anything gives me the right, but I feel inherent responsibility. From what I see and what I know and what I’ve experienced, it seems that they keep getting away with the same things again and again, and the thing that sticks with me is history repeating itself. Whether its from a family perspective or otherwise.
The biggest driver for me is how the treatment of Meghan is affecting hundreds of millions of people around the world. Because they feel how she has been treated very personally. Especially women of colour, but also women in general.
Since 2016, it’s become a national sport to literally try and destroy her. And by doing it in the mainstream media, you normalise it so it happens to everyone else. When you have someone like Jeremy Clarkson get away with that, it becomes acceptable. So people can treat their wives and girlfriends and everybody else the same way. That again is another reason why this is completely worth it, because otherwise you’re just talking about self-preservation, which by the way is how the whole system works, especially in my family. ‘If I can get something out of this, if I can be protected, by giving them something, or trading stories, or inviting them for drinks…’ Self preservation works for you, you’ve found a way to protect yourself, but they’re just going to move on to somebody else.
There are a lot of people saying that they feel for you, they understand you have experienced awful things, but you shouldn’t be airing your family’s dirty laundry.
The airing of my family’s dirty laundry is a term that has been flung at me numerous times by people in the UK, by friends of mine. And they can’t wrap their heads around it, they can’t comprehend it. To me, it’s two fold. One is, my family have been airing each other’s dirty laundry for decades, especially the last 15 years. The ‘never complain, never explain’ thing, it’s just a motto. That’s all it is. And the second part of it is, if you look at it from an abuser’s standpoint, if there’s someone in the family or someone in your life that’s abusing you, then the abuser loves the silence and the ability to say ‘well you can never talk about this to anybody’. So the abuser continues to abuse. It still hurts me now when people say you should never air your family’s dirty laundry. But I always say ‘whats the difference between airing lies about your family through the British press, or airing truth through a book?’ Because this is millions upon millions of words, and in my case it is all contained in one place where I hold myself entirely accountable and entirely responsible for what I am saying. But I arguably wouldn’t have needed to do this, and wouldn’t have chosen to do this, had none of this happened in the first place.
I don’t see why it’s so ingrained 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 can? Because of who they are and what they represent? The way I was brought up is that you, as a member of the royal family, especially as senior members of the family, should be leading by example. 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% 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… [He makes a guttural ‘urggh’ sound]. It’s so dirty. It’s dark. I look forward to the day when we are no longer part of it, but I worry about who’s next.