Prince Harry has so much to learn from Prince William


Alexander Larman

(Credit: Getty images)

Alexander Larman

8 May 2023

9:28 PM

In the run-up to the coronation, the Prince of Wales was a rather detached figure. Prince William kept an unusually low-key profile right up until the week of the coronation, along with his wife: a woman increasingly seen as the Royal Family’s secret weapon. The Princess of Wales combines glamour, accessibility and a welcome sense that she genuinely understands everyday British people, rather than merely trying to.

In the past few days, William and Kate emerged from the shadows. Firstly, there was a walkabout in Soho for the pair two days before the coronation: carefully planned, of course, but giving a welcome impression of spontaneity, and even, given the area’s associations, of faint and welcome raffishness. Then, during the coronation ceremony itself, the early arrival of the new King and Queen meant that William and Kate arrived after them. While this was merely a result of timings, the day was so carefully planned that there was an inevitable symbolic charge to it. Charles is an old monarch who few expect to attain his mother’s longevity; his son is the true future of the Royal Family, in all its conservatism, progressiveness or any other form it takes.

Yet the key difference between William and his estranged younger brother Prince Harry is that he is not only prepared to follow the party line, but to do so with vigour and conviction. It’s enough to make even the most detached observer realise that, like his grandmother, he fully believes in the necessity of duty and service if the monarchy is to survive. This was first demonstrated in perhaps the most straightforwardly affecting part of the coronation, when he kissed his father on the cheek while saying: ‘I, William, Prince of Wales, pledge my loyalty to you and faith and truth I will bear unto you, as your liege man of life and limb. So help me God.’

King Charles, clearly moved by this, was heard to say: ‘Thank you, William’ – a sign that the relationship between the two, sometimes rumoured to be tense and rocky on a personal level, has been given a new depth and strength by the events of the past year.

This dedication to ‘the Firm’ was in full evidence at last night’s coronation concert in Windsor, too. William had spent the day around the town, a jovial and apparently relieved presence judging by his public walkabouts. But it was his speech at the festivities that would be his crucial moment. In keeping with his recent achievements, he nailed it. It combined levity (a Lionel Richie joke, of all things), one of the least likely shout-outs (‘Good evening, Windsor!’) that can be imagined and a touching allusion to his late grandmother.

‘I know she’s up there, fondly keeping an eye on us. And she would be a very proud mother’, he said, before warming to his theme of lauding King Charles III. He praised his ‘Pa’s’ dedication to service, his ecological activism and the Prince’s Trust: the latter still being Charles’s greatest gift to his country.

It was a well-judged speech, and the echoes of his grandmother’s famous 21st birthday statement that: ‘I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong’ were clear.

When William ended by saying: ‘I wish I could mention you all. Your service inspires us. And tonight we celebrate you too. I commit myself to serve you all. King, country and Commonwealth’, it was a reminder that not only has the coronation been – all things considered – a success, but that we are in the rare position of having both a new king and a committed, dutiful Prince of Wales who will presumably be following in his father’s footsteps at a considerably younger age.

As the Harry and Meghan soap opera might – perhaps – show some signs of dying down, the narrative may be shifting in new and welcome ways: the monarchy is in the safest hands that it could be, or so it seems.

Join The Spectator’s Fraser Nelson, Katy Balls and guest Camilla Tominey from the Daily Telegraph for a special edition of Coffee House Live covering what kind of monarch Charles III will be, and whether the coronation will distract voters from the Tories’ predicted heavy losses in the local elections. 10 May from 7pm. Book your tickets today.

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Published by Nelle

I am interested in writing short stories for my pleasure and my family's but although I have published four family books I will not go down that path again but still want what I write out there so I will see how this goes

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