Seven years ago, Prince Harry said he had little time to “stay relevant” and “make a difference” before his nephew and niece made headlines.
“I’m in this privileged position and I’m going to use it as long as I can or until I get bored or until George gets more interesting,” the prince told The Times in 2016, just months before he met Meghan Markle.
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How prescient his prediction proved, because as the Duke of Sussex walked down the altar of Westminster Abbey on Saturday he could not have seemed out of place or more irrelevant.
With a magnificent performance from Prince George as his grandfather’s page, Princess Charlotte, a minor Greek goddess with impeccable manners, and little Louis as the family troublemaker, the fifth heir to the throne has effectively removed himself from the House of Windsor.
Entering the abbey with his cousins, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, he was suddenly alone as they, together with their husbands, walked past those present to their seats.
Without his wife by his side or the support of the family he’d jettisoned, he seemed just as lonely and isolated as his mother, Princess Diana, in the shaky final years of their marriage.
Except for a brief exchange with Eugenie’s husband, Jack Brooksbank, no one seemed to take notice, and when his aunt, Princess Anne, took her place, he was all but obliterated by the elaborate red feather in her cap.
It was obviously coincidence, but emblematic of how marginal he is to the royal family now.
That isolation was compounded when his wife was photographed hiking with friends in the United States the next morning.
Surely the better and more consistent photo would have shown her picking him up from the airport, but instead the Duchess of Sussex looked like she was collecting content for her former lifestyle blog, The Tig.
Granted, her husband may have been jet lagged, but having rushed home to be with his family for her son Archie’s fourth birthday weekend, it was an odd decision by Meghan to step out so lightheartedly while her husband was making such a thoughtful and worrying must have had experience.
For someone so keen on looks and choosing to be with Archie over attending the coronation, you’d think it was a moment to prioritize family over friends.
With his power in Britain weakened, Harry seems less princely and lonelier than ever.
It’s not a lack of uniform, public apathy, or even a self-imposed separation from the family into which he was born, but his apparent lack of purpose.
While his wife has hinted that a new career in Hollywood stardom is underway by signing a deal with agency William Morris Endeavor, Harry seems stranded in a country he hardly knows, and without the projects and patronage who gave meaning to his life.
Yes, there are his kids, but with the Invictus Games only happening every two years, his schedule must look decidedly empty after spares.
Like an athlete who retires without enough plans for his future life, Harry seems stuck in the no man’s land between his royal birthright and his adopted home of California.
He’s 38, an age when most are well established in their careers and consolidating their future, yet his recent projects are anchored in a life he once led rather than a bold new chapter of his own making has.
During the coronation, Harry was photographed sneaking a peek at his brother and sister-in-law in the front row.
Only someone more secure in himself than Harry would wish them well without thinking for a moment what role he would have played had he stayed as a working king.
Might he have also looked down on little Prince Louis, just a year his senior, on his son’s 4th birthday and lamented that his children would be denied the same close relationship he and his brother enjoyed with their cousins?
Harry, of course, didn’t let it show and left Heathrow Airport with a big smile just a few hours after his father’s coronation.
But it’s a long flight across the Atlantic with plenty of time to ponder.
One can only hope that he was given a warm welcome on his return.
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