I just finished reading Prince Harry’s autobiography. (This is the German version in a bookstore downtown — note the Deutsch name.)
It was fascinating, and heartbreaking, and overwhelmingly human, and full of death. In spite of all the very-real spoils of wealth and empire and colonialism and blue-blood privilege, the guy has suffered massively.
Reading his story reminded me of the Buddhist teaching of the First Noble Truth, that quiet, frank reality that life is full of suffering, and our response to that pervasive suffering (or our resistance to it) is what determines the quality of our days.
I remember playing with Princess Di Barbie dolls as a little girl, and watching the news of her tragic death on TV in late August 1997, as I moved into my first college dorm. I remember reading People Magazine stories as a teen, gossipy profiles characterizing Harry as the wild one, the naughty one, the one who couldn’t seem to get his shit together. So it was fascinating to see him debunk so many of the supposed truths of his childhood — “truths” that the media had literally created out of thin air. The poor guy has been chased his whole life; treated like an animal in the zoo, a cash cow for paparazzi and shady journalists alike.
These days, our house is blessedly-free of princess culture; I’m grateful to have a son who doesn’t give a shit about royalty or princess stories or any of that fairy tale hoo-ha. The way American culture saturates children (girls, in particular) with cringeworthy princess mythology makes me nauseous. It’s no wonder everyone assumes “royalty” live a perfect, pain-free existence. It’s aspirational bullshit. This guy certainly hasn’t.
Since Harry’s book release, I’ve so enjoyed seeing this embodied, grounded, warm adult version of himself moving through the world. His The Late Show with Stephen Colbert interview was especially poignant; knowing that Colbert also lost a parent young in a tragic plane crash gave their easy conversation a bittersweet undertone.
Cheers to this dude. It hasn’t been all roses — but he seems to have really done the work. I hope he and his little family find room to breathe in the years to come.