Attend the party Harry, even if it’s for your own interests

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It’s pretty risky writing about Prince Harry these days.

I’m quite afraid that anything written here could land me an unwanted mention in a new Disney Plus tell-all or Amazon series detailing his and Meghan’s struggles adapting to life in one of the world’s wealthiest neighbourhoods.

However, his potential absence from May’s Coronation is something I find quite shocking.

Britain is less than 100 days away from its most important day in most of our lifetimes and it’s still uncertain whether the King’s very own son will attend. Whilst most of us are ready to lose the weekend to bunting, silly cut-outs and national cheer in what will hopefully be a sunny bank holiday; Harry remains “in a predicament” about whether he’ll be able to spare the hour on the day and even turn up.

Popularity has to be deserved and earned

This seems baffling, not just because Harry is the direct next of kin of, he who is to be crowned, but because the Sussexes are currently trying to rebrand themselves as a new A-List celebrity couple in their own right. Boycotting Britain’s most positively spun party is simply going to lead to further bad press for them.

The key to success as a celebrity couple is popularity and this can’t be bought or organised by any friends (yes, even if you’re on texting basis with Beyoncé).

Instead, popularity has to be deserved and earned through a good relationship with the public that has been pruned and cultivated. The late Queen was not revered and admired because of her role, but instead because of what she made of that role – as a patron of the Commonwealth, the face of modern post-Empire Britain and an invaluable counsel who several heads of governments relied on during crisis.

Respect and public admiration cannot just be acquired with a single command but instead is built up over many years of hard work, commitment and graft – something the King himself knows all too well having had to work especially hard to improve his public image after Diana’s death.

If Harry and Meghan are keen to become a new “showbiz couple” like the Beckhams or Clintons, then they need to realise that to be wanted in the public eye you need to command respect first. People don’t want to hear what you have to say unless they like you. Snubbing the sovereign on the biggest occasion of all when your popularity is anyway falling will only make this worse.

Advertisers won’t ask polarising figures to headline commercials, nor will charities be looking for patrons who are viewed negatively by nearly half the population (as YouGov polling on the Duchess suggests). Just ask Prince Andrew about being dropped when your popularity plummets.

Their current reputation divides households but is not irreparable. The British people, the group that will always be Harry’s natural market, be it for philanthropy or commercial endeavours, do see his recent behaviour as exploitative and disingenuous.

Whether the intention is such, the public seem to have already made up their mind, with over half judging the Duke’s actions as narcissistic and dishonourable.

If Harry and Meghan really want to develop their brand, then they need to repair their relationship with the British public. They may think the distance and 8-hour time zone shields them, but the fact of the matter is their fame stems from their association to the British royal family – an unparalleled global brand itself. In 5 years, they have not launched any independent work and their global offering remains bitter criticism of their relatives and the country that paid for their lifestyle. Try as he may, Harry can never really re-invent and divorce himself from this, because arguably it is all that the world knows him for.

Getting an estrangement from relatives is no easy feat and is sure to be no simpler when the eyes of the world are upon you. So, if the Sussexes really want their other ventures to take off they need to get the bee out of their bonnet first and rebuild their relationship with the people that made them famous and into a brand: the British people.

To develop their brand, then, they need to repair their relationship with the British public

A good place to start is attending the country’s biggest national holiday for a lifetime and coming to offer respect to the person who is our new sovereign.

This is not about biased media coverage, cruel palace staff, or “your truth” vs “my truth” – it’s just common sense.

Harry is still the prince who the British public once adored, and there is a yearning to see him and Meghan return because that fairytale is missed.

He would do well to support his father, family and country, and return for the Coronation as we all move into this new Carolean era together.

Image: Raph_PH via Wikimedia Commons

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