Can we ‘Spare’ a thought for Royal Reconciliation?

There can be little doubt that with 400,000 copies being sold on its first day of publication, Prince Harry’s autobiography Spare has caught the public imagination, with many people proclaiming how excited they are to read it. The sales of the publication were no doubt primed by the recent Netflix television series and fuelled by a number of sensational interviews to promote it, all reported upon in the newspapers, which is slightly ironic considering Prince Harry’s well-known loathing for the British press.

But whatever your opinion about Prince Harry and the Royal Family, there can be little doubt that the steady stream of salacious material and juicy titbits are all very sad for the individuals concerned and bad for the Monarchy in general. In fact, the sheer volume of information and level of detail has taken everyone by surprise, with the previously understood policy of the Royal family to ‘never complain, never explain’ being well and truly blasted out of the water. At first glance some of the information about sibling rivalry between Princes William and Harry (and their spouses) seems quite petty, but it’s easy to see how a number of these small petty grievances and cultural misunderstandings can easily ‘blow up’ into larger issues breeding anger and resentment – with accusations of one side leaking information to the press for gain over the other, and charges of overt racism being very serious indeed. There is no doubt that Prince Harry feels compelled to protect and defend his wife from the unconscious bias/racism of his prestigious family (and press), but this, combined with his own sense of past hurt has culminated in his fierce resentment of his perceived treatment as the second son as starkly depicted in his book’s title Spare. But the problem is that no one is perfect and no one comes out of this situation very well – so can the family be reconciled?

Of course, the folly of ‘airing one’s dirty linen in public’ is the difficulty of climbing down and ‘losing face’, especially when you are a member of a Royal family in the full glare of the British press and the world’s media, but despite their grievances, Prince Harry has described his love for his father and brother – and his wish that for his children’s sake, they might be reconciled. Equally King Charles has spoken of his love for his sons, including Prince Harry, which may pave the ground at some point for civilised conversation; an honest, mutual meeting of minds resulting not only in the letting go of past hurts, but also an apology for those caused today. This needs to stem from real repentance, love and forgiveness. But if there is to be any chance of a private reconciliation, then the public argument and media circus has to stop.

The Christian will be aware that the Bible often speaks about ‘not letting the sun go down on your anger’ (Romans 4.26-27) which might give the devil a foothold and ‘the renewing of one’s mind’ (Romans 12.2) which means a change of heart, mind and attitude after the fashion of Christ. Now, no one is saying that this is easy, but genuine love can overcome most obstacles. So together, let’s spare a thought for Prince Harry and pray that he and all the members of the Royal family will overcome their differences and be reconciled.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4.31–32

Duty, Service And The Monarchy – A Right Royal Muddle?

Prince Harry And Meghan Markle Attend UK Team Trials For The Invictus Games Sydney 2018

Meghan and Harry’s decision to step back from royal duties and spend more of their time in Canada ‘away from media intrusion’ has sparked another mad frenzy in the newspapers and media outlets, dividing public opinion and knocking other major stories into the shadows (the reconvening of the Irish assembly at Stormont after three years was almost completely over-looked!). Inevitably public opinion is divided. Some take a sympathetic view accepting that the progressive young royals have a right to live their lives as they choose, believing that the biased tabloid newspapers forced them into making this decision having treated them, and Meghan in particular, abysmally. Others see this as nothing other than a snub to the Nation, the Crown and the Queen, depicting Meghan and Harry as selfish individuals who want all the fame, fortune and advantages of their royal status with none of the duties or responsibilities, and blame Meghan as the catalyst for it – the Duchess of Sussex described as becoming ‘the Duchess of Anywhere’ by one leading political commentator. The truth of the situation is probably none of this. It’s very hard for those of us who are on the outside to truly understand the pressures that face this particular couple and royal family on the inside. Despite her personal preferences, The Queen’s loving and gracious acceptance of the situation wanting to support her ‘grandchildren’ as best she can I think is a good example and lesson to us all.

However, the Christian will be well aware of another royal personage who not only held his royal status lightly but was prepared to set aside his majesty in order to serve the world. We love The Queen because we recognise that she has dedicated her whole life to duty and service on behalf of the nation which is much applauded, but Jesus speaks of himself not only as being in service – but as a servant, one who ‘made himself nothing’ (Philippians 2.7) in order to reach out, rescue and in love serve the world. Jesus frequently turned the values of the world upside down and once, when his disciples were arguing between themselves as to who was the greatest, he taught them that if they wanted to be truly great, they had to be prepared to come last and be the servant of all (Matthew 9.35), an act he modelled himself not only by washing his disciples feet but later by dying upon the cross – the ultimate act of self-giving, humility and sacrifice.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex using their privilege and status to highlight and generate good will for various charities, good causes and those less fortunate than themselves, and we wish them well in their family life, but we also pray and trust that given their royal status and privilege they will use their position wisely and hold their prestige with some humility.

“The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. Luke 22.24-26