Prince Harry has chosen to go public - but how do you best resolve a family feud?
The Duke of Sussex has revealed his story in the glare of the global spotlight, which is a risky move, writes Amana Walker
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With Prince Harry’s book Spare due out imminently, copies and content are already being leaked. And from what we can see, it doesn’t look good for him. Why?
Because he is talking about his time on duty in Afghanistan and referring to the Taliban soldiers as “chess pieces”. Using language like this may help him deal with killing others in the line of duty - but saying it out loud to millions hardly makes him a better human. Our armed forces do a wonderful job, and they are also respectful.
Because he is talking about physically fighting with his own brother. Fighting with your sibling is hardly big news, but this brother is different - he can’t, nor would, publicly answer back. And he knows that. It’s a low blow.
Because he is openly lashing out about his father, King Charles, who may have fallen short of Harry’s expectations as a parent and who may also not be as warm and loving as his late mother. But right now, how is Harry being a model son?
Because leaving the UK for privacy and to live a more normal life is not what appears to be happening for Harry and Meghan. In fact, it’s the opposite, and largely by their own design.
They are both actively seeking publicity to air their stories and personal views, so the attention they are creating (and seeking) will actually be doing them, and their young family, more harm than good. I wonder if their ‘advisors’ are helping them to see that? They should be.
Speaking their truths whilst in the glare of the now global spotlight is a dangerous place to be. Sure, they’ll have their supporters - but they also run the risk of opening themselves up to further criticism in the process.
If Harry, as he claims, truly wants his father and brother back in his life, then talking about private conversations so publicly, and so often, won’t make it happen. However, here’s what he could consider doing instead...
Talk to the right people
Harry might well sell millions of copies of his books and have millions more watching his Netflix series – but if he is seriously looking for solutions, he won’t find them here. We – the public – are not the right people to be telling, we can’t help him.
As tough as it is, solving family squabbles can only be done by being brave enough to sit down and have honest and open conversations with each other. A counsellor (and therapist) may help – but the work has to be done by facing up to it. In private.
Be respectful of everyone’s position
The royal family take their cues from the late Queen, and don’t answer back when talked about. So Harry has put them in a difficult position.
Even in most families, people don’t want their dirty laundry aired publicly. We’d all rather try to work things out as best we can in private. I’m not saying brush it under the carpet – far from it – I’m saying play by rules that you can all follow.
Get clear about what you want
If Harry’s number one priority is to make money and get publicity, he’s won handsomely. If he truly wants his family back, wants change and wants to be a good role model for his own kids, he’s got some work to do.
When the goalposts keep changing, no one stands a chance of reaching a happy conclusion. Be specific about what you’d like to see – or have – and be prepared to compromise. It can’t be all one way and just about what you want, sacrifices are needed on both sides.
No one can move forward if the past is constantly being dragged up – how much more of Harry’s life behind closed doors is there to come? If he wants a resolution, he has to leave the past behind (and yes if therapy helps him, do it - privately).
But there comes a point when enough is enough and the hurt being thrown around is felt by those closest and dearest to you. Listen to yourself, do you sound like a broken record? Even your supporters could switch off soon.
Be willing to apologise
Even when we feel aggrieved and badly done to, there’s a chance that we too have said or done something hurtful. And it’s understandable, any personal attack is likely to provoke a response.
But I go back to a previous point: if Harry is serious about wanting his father and brother back, he has to act with maturity. He has to be a better role model, and that means owning up and apologising for the hurt and damage he himself has caused.
This is no ordinary family fallout; this is the royal family that Harry was born into, and that Meghan married into. No one is perfect, we’ve heard about the mistakes and scandals – they are nothing to be proud of.
His behaviour appears erratic, almost as if he doesn’t know who he is any more - his outbursts are a cry for attention, or an attempt to prove that he is his own person. Either way, he can turn this around and do something to make his late mother, and his family proud. He can stop airing his grievances in public, swallow his pride and work hard (with help, behind closed doors) to sort it out.
Prince Harry has put himself on the world’s stage – and he now has choices. So, what kind of father, brother, son, husband, and human does he want to be?
You can listen to Amana on our self-improvement podcast series, The Reset Room.