Source: Prince Harry ‘Is Not Unhappy.’ He and Meghan are ‘Excited,’ Planning Their Future
Prince Harry, a source tells The Daily Beast, “is enjoying the California sun, being with his wife, and enjoying being with his kid.” He and Meghan are “building out” future plans.
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Stories suggesting that Harry is miserable and depressed, sources tell The Daily Beast, are wide of the mark. While his friends are more than ready to concede that he may be somewhat unsettled or on the back foot owing to the lockdown, who, they ask, hasn’t been?
“Everybody’s in a weird place,” said one friend.
The lockdown may have driven a coach and horses through the carefully laid plans of all humanity, including the Sussexes, but Harry, they say, is far from the morose and miserable figure portrayed in some media in recent days.
Indeed, one source said that tales of Harry’s supposed unhappiness are much overstated: “He’s enjoying the California sun, enjoying being with his wife, and enjoying being with his kid,” said a source. “He’s not unhappy. They are both busy and excited, and they are building out their plans for the future.”
On the philanthropic front, Harry’s plans for the next year are being kept under wraps. However, a renewed focus on military values and mental health initiatives, anchored by the postponed 2020 Invictus Games (they take place every two years) seems likely.
The cancellation of Invictus this year was, undeniably, a huge blow to Harry’s post-royal relaunch. The Paralympic-style event for wounded servicemen has been the cornerstone of Harry’s work with military and veterans groups, and it is notable that Harry has sent not one but two video messages to the event’s disappointed competitors in recent weeks.
But as to what exactly Harry’s commercial future will hold, no-one is telling just yet.
It was, of course, in large part in order to be allowed to undertake commercial work, to achieve “financial independence” that Harry left the royal family. Had it not been for the arrival of the pandemic, it is entirely likely that Harry would by now be a familiar figure on the high-end speaker circuit or Ted-like stages.
Harry’s debut into exec producing comes later this year with his Apple TV+ show on mental health with Oprah Winfrey. Oprah is a friend of Meghan’s from the Hollywood circuit and was a guest at the royal wedding.
It must have seemed a decent bet at the time and could, arguably, provide a road map for Harry’s future, but with Apple’s TV service struggling to connect with viewers so far, it seems a long shot that it will be seen by the requisite millions to lead to a deluge of job offers in the TV world for Harry.
The British brand consultant Mark Borkowski, who has long been fascinated by the royals, says that Harry’s commercial future success will be intimately linked to how well he manages his emergence into the post-COVID world.
“I just don’t see him having the skill set to be a producer,” said Borkowski. “What people forget about Harry is that because he was trained to be in the firm, so as a result he is a man who is very tuned into concepts like public duty, service and community. Putting him in California is a bit like putting an animal in a zoo. It is so far out of his natural environment. It would definitely be a mistake for him to become too closely identified with the Hollywood glitz and the glamor. That’s Meghan’s world.
“He is the outdoors guy, the explorer, the guy in your local community doing cup challenges for charity, and that was why the Invictus Games was a huge success; it had all the attributes and brand values he stands for. That’s why he is so strong on Africa and the environment. I can easily see him walking across Antarctica for charity and making a film about it, for example—the adventure for good purpose—and setting up a very compelling narrative about someone overcoming huge hurdles in life to establish who he is in the process.”
Borkowski says the money needed to fund the dreary details of life such as security teams will come if the narrative is right: “Harry can build a business structure around that kind of narrative and get paid big commercial money. It might involve sitting on the board of a Silicon Valley company, for example, leadership courses, inspirational seminars or helping corporations with their own philanthropic goals to give back. He could be a very disruptive force in that world.”
The couple are of course fortunate that Meghan knows the shark-infested waters of Hollywood well. She has worked in the entertainment industry all her life, and proved herself as an actress on Suits.
Now she is returning to the town as one of the most famous women on the planet, so finding a few well-paid roles to bankroll their lives and, ideally, symbiotically highlight their philanthropic work shouldn’t be overly taxing.
Both Meghan and Harry will, of course, be well aware of the cautionary tale of the declining financial fortunes of the last notable abdicant, the Duke of Windsor and his wife Wallis Simpson. They are the elephant in the room when it comes to any discussion of how Harry and Meghan might manage the transition to private citizens.
The Windsors were forced into exile by the Crown and were at first feted around the globe.
But their earning power decreased as the scandalous events of 1936 receded from view and they became not-very-important people.
They eked out their days relying on the generosity of friends, financial crumbs cast by intrigued American millionaires and, denied a pension by the British government, ultimately relied on a stipend of £25,000 a year from the monarchy (said to be equivalent to around $1m a year today). After the duke's death, the amount paid to his widow was cut to £5,000.
Harry seemed in mortal danger of ignoring the lessons of this chapter of history when it emerged that his first big-money commercial gig was speaking to a crowd of investment bankers at a JP Morgan event.
Unverified reports that he was paid a million dollars for the speech, and that he said in it that he had been in therapy for several years to help him cope with death of his mother, were met with slack-jawed disbelief.
As well as leaving Harry—who has long complained with good reason about invasion of privacy—open to charges of hypocrisy and covetousness, the event made little long-term business sense. Dishing on yourself isn’t really a viable long-term model. The people who consistently and continuously bag giant paychecks for a quick speech are the ones, like the Obamas, who have had the most extraordinary careers, and done incredible, pivotal things.
Harry and Meghan have not done that hard work, yet, and to make a decent fist of financial freedom in the long run they will need to. When this pandemic is over, they have two new identities to build.