I know, I know, I know . . . There are so many other things to be focusing on at this time of Unprecedented Crisis than the details of the £14.5m ($29.5m) mansion in which the Duke and Duchess of Sussex now dwell. Who cares that the Beverly Hills home, owned by the producer and actor Tyler Perry, sits in the 90210 zipcode, has eight bedrooms, a fountain and a pool around the back? Or that it costs around £200k ($407,000) to rent a month?
Is it really in my interests to know who is paying for the accommodation: if the lodgings are being paid for by the host, or if it has fallen to Prince Charles — who is underwriting the Sussex lifestyle for the first year of their transition into "normal" civilian life — to pay the cheques?
Who cares that Meghan and Harry have employed the services of the 70-year-old Rebecca Mostow, the Beckhams' former aide, to help them "run their lives"? Or that Meghan has lost on some issues in the first stage in her battle against Associated Newspapers, which she is suing for misuse of private information, breach of data protection and copyright infringement, as Justice Mark Warby has ruled to strike out part of her case. It's hard to join the dots when the couple's claims about infringement have coincided with news of a biography, Finding Freedom, for which the pair have collaborated with reporters to tell the "definitive version" of their lives.
Who cares? I do, as it happens. So much, in fact, that if left unattended I scrape for any crumb of Sussex information and follow any cruddy source. But why do I find myself caring quite so deeply? Because each new story is just one blow after the next. A long litany of disappointments in which each new revelation finds my former affection for Harry further sour.
By rights, Harry should be flying right now. These are the exact circumstances — global meltdown, widespread chaos, patchy leadership — in which young, charismatic royals tend to soar. This crisis, with its catastrophic impact on our livelihoods and the challenges it has placed on people's mental health, would seem to have been designed with his good works in mind. This would have been the perfect opportunity, to coin a phrase, for Harry to lean in. After an adulthood of listless purpose, the bonny prince of mindfulness and therapy could have used this moment to really make a mark. He could have encouraged us to empathise and be kind to each other and talk about our feelings — all the things of which he used to speak so highly when he was princing. Before he chucked it in.
But while his 94-year-old grandmother has been rallying the people with optimistic speeches to the words of Vera Lynn, and his two-year-old nephew has been clapping for key workers and handprinting NHS-supporting rainbows on little bits of card, Harry's only significant communiqué has been an announcement sent on April 20 to various tabloid papers to let them know that he and Meghan would be having "zero engagement" with them hence. His preoccupation with press mistreatment may be understandable, and — of course — he is under no obligation to get involved now that he is no longer officially a royal. But on a day when figures for corona deaths reached 16,509 in the UK, it seemed an epic fail to read the room.
In the few short weeks since the abdication of his duties, Harry seems already so removed. Having been such a unifying figure, he's gone to Hollywood and shut the door. He's addressed the odd video message to veterans, and shared a post on Archie's birthday, but even @sussexroyal, the couple's carey, sharey Instagram feed, has dwindled off to naught. Their last post, made more than a month ago, was some platitude about thanking their community for their "shared commitment to the good in the world".
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And they must be feeling thankful. Having eschewed the trappings of their royal obligations, the Sussexes are now embracing an alternative dominion, one in which they have Queen Oprah as adviser, and the services of Prince's former aide.
I guess I care because I feel a bit cheated. Because, somewhat naively, I thought Harry cared about me too. I was charmed by his normal-person banter, his seeming indifference to status, and his cheeky-chappy grin. I enjoyed his affability with common people, his blokey energy and the way he made his brother look like such a stiff. His marriage to Meghan once heralded a new era: their stance on equality and openness and hugging seemed so thrillingly relaxed. But what seemed modern and exciting before this process of emotional devolution looks increasingly myopic, materialistic and mundane.
Now Harry is shacked up in a Tuscan manor, alongside neighbours Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. His new civilian lifestyle in Hollywood upholds such baldly basic aspirations. I thought that he was different. Silly me.
Written by: Jo Ellison
© Financial Times