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Prince Harry always shared his moms dream of a normal life in America

Vanity Fair has a great piece this week called “The Story Behind Prince Harry’s Democratic Roots.” The thesis is that long before Harry even met an American actress named Meghan Markle, he dreamed of being a normal bloke living in America. While his mother was an aristocrat, Diana had “the common touch,” and she was arguably the most egalitarian person to ever step foot inside the monarchy. She tried to teach her sons that same thing, that everyone is equal, that they should be able to live among regular people, etc. There were some really interesting quotes about just how much Harry always longed to be “normal,” even when he was just a little kid.

Diana won the argument about sending the boys to regular schools: “Diana won her argument with Charles about sending their sons to school with other children from the start, rather than having them tutored in the palace, as Charles was before he was shipped off to a boarding school—an experience he despised yet he seemed to think would be appropriate to repeat it with his own boys,” says royal historian Leslie Carroll, author of American Princess: The Love Story of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.

Harry internalized Diana’s democratic nature: Much like his mother, from a young age the gregarious Harry, who former bodyguard Ken Wharfe reportedly compared to a friendly Labrador who liked everyone, sought out friendships with those outside the royal bubble. “In hindsight, Harry, more so than William…seems to have internalized the democratic nature, and the excitement, of being able to mingle with everyone else,” Carroll says. He seemed to particularly like seeking out friendships with employees at the various royal residences. “Even as a small child, he was eager to rake leaves with the palace groundskeepers or help out in the kitchen,” Andersen says. “Harry was always the hands-down favorite of the royal worker bees—the bodyguards, butlers, footmen, maids, cooks, and nannies who keep the whole thing running.”

The meritocracy of the military: “To Harry, the modern British military was a democratic institution in the first place, where promotion was based on merit, and he was bunking with men from all social strata, all focused on the same mission,” Carroll says. “And it was vital to him to be just Harry Wales, one of the lads, comrades in arms, all in it together, in the same gritty circumstances eating the same shitty food. His Army ID number was WA 4673A and to the other pilots he was simply known as call sign ‘Widow Six Seven.’”

Harry was eager to prove he wasn’t just a snobby royal. “More than any of the other princes…Harry went out of his way to bond with his fellow soldiers, taking on the dirtiest and most dangerous assignments, kicking around a soccer ball with them in the middle of the desert, pulling practical jokes,” Andersen says. “He always wanted to be treated like just one of the guys, and he got his wish.”

Diana’s American dream became Harry’s reality: “Diana always felt at a home in the U.S., where her openness, compassion, and charisma made her even more popular than she was in Britain,” Andersen says. According to Carroll, it was an affinity shared by her youngest son. “Even when Harry was a boy, America came to symbolize a concept of freedom to be oneself—whether actually true or not—that he didn’t have as a member of the British royal family. Britain’s social hierarchy has always been class-based, rather than a meritocracy, and Harry has expressed discomfort with the concept that solely because of his birthright he’s a notch, or several, ‘more than’ those he interacts with, goes to school with, or works alongside.”

Andersen agrees that Harry always wanted this. “Harry always seemed an ideal fit for life in America, and his marriage to Meghan sealed the deal. Harry has always seemed slightly embarrassed by his position at the top of Britain’s class system and would like nothing better than to fit in like a regular bloke—something his father, Prince Charles, was congenitally incapable of doing.”

[From Vanity Fair]

While Prince William has long enjoyed his “normal, middle class” cosplay, the truth is that William has always enjoyed his privilege and he’s enjoyed getting away with behaving like a petty despot. I would even say that Harry is more democratic and egalitarian than his mother – while Diana treated everyone the same and she was drawn to marginalized people, she could still be a snob sometimes. It was more like Harry always wanted to be free of everything and everyone in the UK. Meghan was, in essence, his getaway car.

Photos courtesy of Backgrid.

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