The sad truth hidden in this photo of Prince Harry.
The sad truth hidden in this photo of Prince Harry.

Sad truth hidden in this photo

Spend any time in the online comments sections of various stories about the royal family and you will find some very strange and unpalatable stuff such as conspiracy theories that involve a surrogate and the bizarre jibe that Meghan is "still not talked about as much as bin laden was at the height of his career".

And then, every so often you will find the rarest of things: A good point.

This week, as the world got itself in a delightful lather over the birth of THE BABY, it was impossible to avoid the positively cockle-warming footage of Prince Harry, bleary-eyed and ebullient, chatting to a Sky News reporter about the birth.

In a jumper that looked like he might have borrowed it from Prince Philip on a dare, he glowed while talking about wife Meghan and then did his best to try and explain the miracle of childbirth while a couple of horses peered at him.

He also looked the happiest he has looked in yonks.


Harry seemed happier in the interview than he has in months.
Harry seemed happier in the interview than he has in months.

As one online commenter succinctly put it: "Old Harry is back!"

I couldn't have said it better myself BarryFromBristol81.

His grin was ear-to-ear and I think I would run out of platitudes before I could fully describe just how happy the bloke appeared.

Delightful as that is, it throws into stark relief just how downright flat and dour the Duke of Sussex has been looking for nearly a year.

Now, don't get me wrong: I am not for a second suggesting that Meghan has anything to do with his 2018 trademark grimace.

However, the sight of him yesterday, all boyish charm and glee, was very much Old Harry; the joking, joyful Prince whose authenticity and warmth have earned him a devoted legion of fans the world over.

By contrast, we have grown sadly accustomed to New Harry of late: a man who has plodded along looking like he had the weight of the world on his Gieves & Hawkes bespoke suited shoulders.

And, who can blame him?


We couldn’t help but notice how dour the Duke of Sussex had been looking for nearly a year.
We couldn’t help but notice how dour the Duke of Sussex had been looking for nearly a year.

Despite snagging a smart and stylish bride who shares his passion for social activism, Africa and tending to wounded animals, the last year of his life has been surprisingly tough.

First, there was the long-running, much discussed Sussex Vs Cambridge throwdown. A raft of reports came out claiming that Meghan was Alexis Carrington to Kate's demure Krystle and that the duo were feuding with the gusto of a Dynasty storyline.

Next came the claims that it was actually the brothers who were at odds, a lifetime of fraternal support and connection seemingly evaporating overnight. (Both couples are said to have healed said wounds and are mates again - Kate and Wills even dropped around over Easter to take a look at the Frogmore Cottage renos and have a cuppa.)

Then there was the public's very mixed reception to Meghan's arrival in the Windsor clan's midst. The criticisms flung at The Firm's latest recruit would have dented even the toughest of exteriors: That she didn't fit into the royal family, she was too showy, too political, too American and was spending too much money. (In among all of that was a whole lot of covert racism too.)

Consider how it must have felt for Harry: Rather than basking in the glow of great love and the beginning of a new and thrilling life, he was having to contend with the clacking of critical tongues and a whisper campaign that he had been seduced by a social climber.

Lastly, that in the midst of all of this incredible emotional upheaval there was a whole lot of really big, practical things going on.

After nearly 20 years of being tethered to his brother professionally, the duo having nearly been something of a two-for-one package since adolescence, Harry was finally in charge of a royal office of his own, to chart his own course, largely unencumbered to pursue the causes and work he is passionate about.

Then, there is the small matter of Frogmore Cottage. Sure, Harry and Meghan weren't down there at dawn, scraping off old paint and ruing the day they decided on a fixer-upper.

But I bet there was at least one moment when the stress and strain of having to choose, say, a sitting room sconce or tap for the downstairs dog washing parlour that was enough to make a sane person want to scream.

Let's be honest: even the hardiest of men have been reduced to blubbering messes being forced to decide on the exact shade they want the grout in the downstairs loo.

Did we mention that Harry has also spent nearly 10 months with the weight of expectant fatherhood looming over him?

Which explains why, as all of this has been going on, old mate has been looking the worse for wear. On official visits and at various royal events he looked either flat or just morose while Meghan did her best to put on a Good Show and to gamely smile.

But, hopefully all of that is the past. With a wave of public support, global goodwill and presents on their way from both Oprah and the Obamas, things are definitely looking up for Hazza and not a moment too soon.

Welcome back Old Harry, we have really missed you.

Daniela Elser is a royal expert and freelance writer with 20 years' experience who has written for some of Australia's best print and digital media brands | Continue the conversation @DanielaElser

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