Harry’s life, in contrast, sometimes seemed like a catastrophe waiting to happen, risking bringing shame on the Royal family. Some might argue, his and Meghan’s outpouring to Oprah Winfrey and his subsequent series with the chat show host about mental health, in which he criticised the Royals’ cycle of “genetic pain”, seemed to do exactly that.
“Grief changes as one gets older,” says Borg. After the shock comes acceptance, and a keen awareness of one’s own mortality. “When people become aware that one day they’re going to die, they often change their behaviour – so they might look at their life and think ‘What am I happy with? What do I need to change?’”
Diana remains freeze-framed in Harry’s mind as a young woman of 36, the same age, incidentally, as Meghan when he and she got engaged, and perhaps in some ways he is still trying to remain a good boy in her eyes. It clearly still comforts him to believe that Diana is somehow in touch and aware of what he does, especially when it involves causes she cared about.
“I instinctively know what my mother would like me to do,” he told me when we talked in 2018. Subsequently, he stated that she would be “jumping up and down” at the news of his engagement, “looking forward to being a grandmother” and that she and her daughter-in-law would have been “best friends”.
During the couple’s interview with Oprah he even suggested his mother had foreseen he would leave the Royal family and left him money to help make it happen. “I think she saw it coming and she’s been with us through this whole process,” he explained.
But now Harry is older than his mother when her life ended. He has a new life before him as a husband and father, and thanks to his Royal connections has every opportunity ahead.
He also has a fulfilling marriage, which his late mother never had, something that should, but doesn’t always seem to, give him a more positive outlook on life. He was 33 when he married, so has had more experience of the ups and downs of life than his mother, who married Prince Charles when she was just 19.
He has more control over the upbringing of his two children, Archie, aged two, and Lillibet, three months – and more freedom, too. He and Meghan don’t have to conform to Royal protocols and can define their own values and timetable. He has the same parental responsibility that his mother had, but much more freedom. Harry believes similarly to his mother in the power of ‘service’, helping those in need and basing his goals on her humanitarian legacy. One difference is that Diana never lectured the public or invited charges of hypocrisy for telling us what to do while excusing herself from the same responsibility. She also brought up both boys to have a sense of duty and respect for the monarchy.