Several statements by Prince Harry of Wales in the American magazine “Newsweek” last week caused some criticism. Whether it was wise of him to say these things remains a question, but at least he was honest. And probably he spoke about what many royals have felt and might never have spoken about.
We are involved in modernizing the British monarchy. We are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of the people…. Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time.
I didn’t want to be in the position I was in, but I eventually pulled my head out of the sand, started listening to people and decided to use my role for good.
Quotes from Prince Harry in Newsweek
Royals are just like you and me in certain ways. They were kids, teenagers, students, and grow up, just like everybody else. They were once kids that just like all kids probably wanted to be a nurse, an air hostess, a policeman, a firefighter … or maybe even a princess or a queen – until they actually realise they are already royal. But the older you get the more realistic you are about what you can become. It depends on intelligence, character, possibilities, dreams, ambitions. You start studying, try to find out what you want to become, but you need time for it. And sometimes dreams just can’t come true. And certainly to prepare for a job as a Queen or King needs time and practise. It is a job that has to grow on you.
If you’re born a royal you sometimes live, as Prince Harry so nicely pointed out, in a “goldfish bowl”. People recognise you, have opinions about you, want to see your pictures. Apart from being a child, a teenager, you also have to deal with the pubic interest. Something that can’t be easy. All these people staring at you. And nowadays the Internet has made it worse than ever as there will always be someone recognising you when you are as known as Prince Harry. A royal teenager can’t be much different from a normal teenager, puberty really doesn’t skip anyone and comes with difficulties. For example King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands spent some time at secondary school in Wales because as he later said he and his parents found each other difficult. And of course Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden developed anorexia. And several other royals had their rebellious periods or decided to study abroad where they could live a somewhat more anonymous life. But they are different anyway, as they often lead a much more public life than normal citizens.
As Prince Harry said, his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, had told “us to take our time and really think things through”. Which is probably the best attitude. It takes time to make your way as a royal, even if you were born one. You see it also with people who have married into royal families, like Prince Daniel of Sweden, Crown Princesses, that it takes time to find out what your interests are, what you want to be involved in. That surely won’t have been different for Prince Harry or his brother Prince William, or his sister-in-law Duchess Catherine. Being a royal does mean that you have a known name, which you can use, as Harry said “for good”. Charity, promoting your country, connect yourself to important themes like mobbing, microfinance, or whatever you’re interested in. You can really make a difference for other people.
In many royal families the ones that are not destinated for the crown, and sometimes even the ones who are, can choose themselves a profession. In modern times you can only have a certain amount of royals receiving an apanage and undertake engagements full-time or even part-time. In many monarchies apart from the monarch and the heir, the members of the royal families don’t receive apanages anymore. They have to make their own living, find their own way in life. That is the case for example in the Netherlands and Luxembourg, and will surely also be more and more the case in most other monarchies. In that the British royal family seems to be somewhat of an exception. Although you see that the Queen’s grandchildren at least seem to have a job, which they try to combine with a royal life. Not really an easy thing to do I guess. Titles have their advantages and disadvantages for royals in professional life. It might not be too wise using your title too openly (the Dutch royals often use the surname Van Oranje). But on the other hand a royal life comes with contacts to the highest level, which might be very helpful finding a job or receiving a good position.
Royals who really decide to give up their rights to the throne, should understand one thing: they will never really cease to be a royal completely. Even if you would give up your title, you nowadays still remain that former royal that is of some interest to people and media. There still will be the family occasions, that you are supposed to attend. Many people will still know who you are and with the internet it will be very hard to hide somewhere. So if giving up the throne would really be a solution if you want to live a private life, one can wonder.