I'm sure Princess Diana would be proud!
New birth, new start: It’s time for Harry to stop his privacy war with the press, Meghan to heal the rift with her dad, and both of them to stop feuding with Wills and Kate
I’d just posted a snarky ‘Trying, but currently failing, to muster up a semblance of enthusiasm for this royal baby’ tweet yesterday afternoon when I received an urgent text message from my mother.
‘Think back to how you felt when your little lot were born,’ she wrote. ‘You don’t want people ruining it.’
Of course, she was right, as mothers usually are.
It was needlessly churlish of me to express such public disinterest in the birth of Meghan and Harry’s son.
I may not be a great personal fan of my former friend the Duchess of Sussex, for reasons I’ve discussed too many times now, but the birth of any baby should always be a time for celebration.
It certainly was for me.
The births of my four children were all moments of quite wondrous excitement.
There really is nothing more earth-shatteringly powerful than the arrival of a newborn child, blinking and shrieking its innocent, vulnerable way into the big, bad world.
No wonder Prince Harry sounded so ecstatic, proud and slightly dazed. It’s an experience, particularly with your first baby when you have no real idea what to expect, that frankly dwarfs anything else life has to offer.
So I found Harry’s impromptu speech outside Frogmore Cottage home very touching.
‘Amazing!’ he gushed, ‘absolutely incredible…I’m thrilled… I’m just over the moon!’
The sheer unadulterated joy written all over his face said it all.
I remember that feeling.
You never forget it.
Babies bring out the best in people – reminding us all that what really matters in life is family, friends and good health.
They also offer a chance for reflection, for taking a few beats to contemplate where your life has taken you so far and where you want it to take you next.
This royal birth has come after a highly turbulent year for Harry and his American bride; one that’s been dominated by a lot of surging fame and fun, but also by a lot of feuding.
First, Harry’s bitter long-time battle with the press.
The headstrong Prince has made no secret of his disdain for the media, and especially newspapers, still holding them responsible for his mother’s death in a Paris road chase with paparazzi.
I get why he feels so antagonistic towards the fourth estate, but I urge him now to let it drop before it makes him look ridiculous and hypocritical.
The birth of this baby, the first mixed race child born to the British royals, should be a moment for national, and indeed global, celebration.
But Harry and Meghan declared they wanted the birth plans to remain private.
‘Entirely their right!’ screamed their supporters.
But is it?
Part of the deal of being a Prince is that you share your happy family stuff with the public. It’s what you do in return for all the palaces, servants and endless luxuries that go with the title – much of which is paid for by the taxpayer.
As a result of this rather petulant act of defiance, yesterday became a guessing-game farce.
‘It was a home birth!’ shouted some headlines.
‘It was a hospital birth!’ shouted others.
The Palace didn’t say either way, mindful of Harry and Meghan’s demand for privacy.
In fact, in transpired that Harry and his royal security team had conducted a late-night cloak-and-dagger operation to squirrel his wife out of their home to a private hospital in London, evading the camped-out press and fans. Even senior royals were left in the dark.
The bizarre subterfuge continued when we were officially told she’d gone into labour eight hours after she’d actually given birth.
And when it was finally confirmed the baby had indeed arrived, details of the medical team that delivered the little boy, which are usually included in royal birth announcements, were curiously omitted.
So the public were left uninformed of basic harmless facts and the media left to speculate in the very way Harry claims to find so annoying.
The couple also refused to do the normal post-birth royal baby photo-op either.
I suspect that Meghan, a Hollywood actress by trade, didn’t want to risk looking anything but as perfect as possible before they finally do a picture tomorrow.
But this exclusionary treatment of the media is ultimately self-defeating: without media attention, interest in the royals would quickly die. They shun us at their peril.
Meghan knew the deal when she married Harry, and voluntarily signed up for public life. Harry knows the deal too, but chooses to ignore it and use the media only when it suits him. That, I’m afraid, is not how it works. It’s time he made peace with the press, even if it’s through gritted teeth.
The second feud is between Harry and William, and, as a consequence, between their wives too.
I’m told on good authority there’s been genuine tension between the two brothers, much of it originating from William’s understandable elder sibling concern that young Harry was rushing into marriage with a 36-year-old American divorcee.
As a result of their arguments, Harry has deliberately ploughed an increasingly unconventional royal route with Meghan – positioning themselves as the new international royal rock stars, unrestricted by the sense of duty Duke and Duchess of Cambridge must observe as Britain’s future King and Queen.
This, in turn, has annoyed William and Kate who are being made to look like boring irrelevances by comparison.
Harry and Meghan need to cool their celebrity jets and understand their place in the structure of the Monarchy.
William and Kate MUST be the biggest stars, just as the Queen and Prince Philip have been for over 60 years, and Prince Charles and his wife Camilla will be when he accedes to the throne.
Harry’s son is already just 7th in line to the throne, and like his father will slip ever lower as he gets older.
In the general scheme of royal succession, Harry and Meghan are unimportant.
But their thirst for global celebrity threatens to diminish the brand of the future Monarch, and that can’t be allowed to happen.
So this silly on-going feud between the Fab Four must stop, for their sakes and the sake of the Royal Family.
Finally, Meghan needs to make peace with her father Thomas.
Their ugly falling-out has blighted the royal fairy-tale ever since the wedding.
Yesterday, Thomas made a very gracious statement saying, “I am proud that my new grandson is born into the British royal family and I am sure that he will grow up to serve the crown and the people of Britain with grace, dignity and honour. God bless the child and I wish him health and happiness, and my congratulations to my lovely daughter Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry, and God save the Queen.’
These words sounded like a carefully honed olive branch to me, and it is one Meghan should not be too stubborn to seize.
When I interviewed Thomas last November, he said he hoped the baby would bring him and his daughter closer again.
‘I’m certainly hoping that I’ll get to see a little Meghan or a little Harry, that would be very nice,’ he said. ‘I think she’ll make a great mum and I think that maybe things will soften a little bit and maybe we can connect again.’
Thomas has brought much of Meghan’s wrath onto himself, and I say that as someone who also feels a lot of sympathy for the way he was blown into turmoil by the royal maelstrom that disrupted his quiet retirement.
But he remains her Dad, and the man about whom, until she met Harry three years ago, she regularly professed her undying love and gratitude for on social media.
I’m sorry, but Harry can’t endlessly bang on about mental health, and the urgent need to reach out to people suffering from loneliness or ill health, but still refuse to even meet his father-in-law, knowing the torment the estrangement is putting Thomas through.
Nor can Meghan persuade me, after the loving way she talked about her father when we met in my local pub, that the split between them makes her anything but miserable.
They should take their son to meet his grandfather as soon as possible and heel the heart-breaking rift – before it’s too late.
Babies are wonderful things.
Let this one be the catalyst not just for radical change in the cultural identity of the British Royal Family – but also for an end to the feuds currently putting a large cloud over his parents’ sunshine.
As my mother would say: ‘You don’t want people ruining it.’https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7002321/New-birth-new-start-time-Harry-stop-privacy-war-Meghan-heal-rift-dad.html