Prince Harry must relinquish his title as Duke of Sussex to draw a line under everything - Andrew Vine
I thought so as I watched the interview with him on ITV on Sunday evening.
For all his bluster, complaints and accusations, and despite his obvious desire to settle scores over perceived slights and injustices, Harry did not look to me like a man with a quiet conscience.
There was an edginess, a defensiveness about him that spoke of somebody disappointed, and maybe even bewildered, that his actions have not resulted in the fulfilment he had hoped for.
And there is something else too, both in the interview and the extracts from his book that have made for such painful reading over the past few days – the sense that Harry has walked with eyes wide open into a trap of his own making.
Whether he comprehends it or not, publication of his book has defined him forever as somebody whose status and earning power in the celebrity world he has entered depends upon him being in conflict with his family.
It’s a chilling prospect to be permanently pigeonholed for that. Whatever he does from now on, the question that everybody will always have of Harry is if he has mended relations with his family.
Maybe that struck him once the extracts of the book started to leak. He is only 38. What do the decades ahead for him hold once the furore over all this has died down, beyond being characterised as the prince who fell out spectacularly with those he once loved?
What role does he see for himself, what purpose in life? Neither the book extracts nor his interview offered any answers.
As a working royal, however much he now rails against the confines of that role, he made a valuable contribution to the life of this country, particularly in his work to promote better mental health in the young and the championing of injured service personnel.
They are the most laudable of causes, heartfelt for being rooted in Harry’s own experiences of struggling to cope with the tragedy of his mother’s death and serving in the armed forces. The public affection and admiration both brought him were entirely deserved.
Yet he now seems to have nothing to offer except resentment, the same old story being told over and over again.
He has given his side of events repeatedly, in the interview with Oprah Winfrey, in the six-part Netflix series, and now in print and a new round of television appearances.
It surely cannot stand any more rehashing, because the endless repetition is tiresome, as is the sight of a man endlessly seething over events of the past instead of coming to terms with them and moving on, which is the way most adults deal with hurt.
So much of what he has had to say is ill-judged. Tales of sibling rivalry and a silly scuffle with his brother are trivial tittle-tattle that should have remained private, acknowledged between those involved as part of the usual ups and downs of family life, forgiven and laughed about in retrospect. And Harry seems to me to have cheapened his distinguished service record by tallying the number of people he killed in Afghanistan, which has been criticised by other former soldiers as something that is just not done.
This has all added up to a horrible period for the royal family, particularly in the wake of the Queen’s death. It is a mercy that she did not live to see the publication of Spare.
Yet the family’s dignified silence is the correct response, for once the round of interviews is over and the book’s initial surge of sales start to slow, the whole thing will blow over. The King and the Prince of Wales will continue their work, and the country will admire them for it, turning its attention away from the prince in self-imposed exile in California.
But there is one thing Harry could do to regain a measure of the public sympathy that he once enjoyed, but is now rapidly diminishing because of his endless complaining.
It is to state explicitly that the unhappiness he has spelt out in such forensic details means he and his wife want nothing further to do with the institution they blame, and relinquish their titles as Duke and Duchess of Sussex to draw a line under everything. That way future happiness may lie, even though their celebrity earning power might suffer.