COMMENT:

There is every chance that Prince Harry remembers Valentine's Day 2014.

Not because he spent it ensconced on some romantic date with his then-squeeze Cressida Bonas, but because he worked while up to his knees in flood waters, hefting sand bags with his brother Prince William.

Six years on, devastating storms have again lashed the UK this week, leaving parts of the country underwater — and Harry is a world away (to be fair, William is currently enjoying half-term with his kids rather than trying to keep Berkshire pensioners dry).

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Earlier this month Harry and wife Meghan had dinner with Jennifer Lopez and her fiance baseball star turned businessman Alex Rodriguez.

Just think about that for a moment. Imagine getting in a time machine and telling Harry circa 2014 – a man who had just served two terms on the frontline in Afghanistan and was renowned for his red-faced 2am nightclub exits – that in the future he would attend what is essentially a millionaire bankers kaffeeklatsch before dining with the star of Gigli.

And that he was staying in a borrowed house so devoid of taste it would be perfect for a Real Housewife.

Oh, and that he was living in Canada.

Gone is the simple lad whose boyish charms captivated the British public and whose military service made his countrymen proud. Photo / AP
Gone is the simple lad whose boyish charms captivated the British public and whose military service made his countrymen proud. Photo / AP

To be clear, this is not about snobbery but a marker of just how wildly Harry's life has changed in only a matter of weeks — five, if you're counting.

Wednesday this week marked 31 days since Harry essentially farewelled the UK at a charity function, giving an impassioned (though perhaps a little churlish) speech before flying out of the country.

In just over a month, his day-to-day existence has changed so profoundly that nearly all the vestiges of his former existence have gone. He is no longer addressed as His Royal Highness. He no longer has any official ties to the military. As of the most recent Wednesday, gone is his and Meghan's ability to market themselves as 'Sussex Royal' after the Queen put the kibosh on them using the royal imprimatur.

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Adding to this sense of finality to their departure is the news that broke this week regarding their office staff of 15, which includes their private secretary and communications team. While he and Meghan initially said in their January 6th resignation announcement that they planned to "balance" their time between the UK and North America, that is looking less and less likely after it was revealed that their entire London office is being disbanded.

Meanwhile, they have built up a US-based support operation, with the couple reportedly working with American PR supremos Sunshine Sachs and a member of the Suits star's former professional management team.

 Prince Harry once led a life government by protocol and procedure. It's a far cry from the new path ahead of him, and one he may not be able to return to. Photo / Getty Images
Prince Harry once led a life government by protocol and procedure. It's a far cry from the new path ahead of him, and one he may not be able to return to. Photo / Getty Images

It's 47 days since the Sussexes first signalled — via Instagram post and a shiny new website — their intention to renegotiate their royal 'contract'.

47 days later, gone is grey England, days of hand-shaking and child-hugging walkabouts. Instead, they're gabbing with the world's business elite and taking quick jaunts to the heart of Silicon Valley to brainstorm their soon-to-be-launched philanthropic foundation. It has even been reported, via the UK's Mirror, that there is a "gold rush" going on among the banking elite to secure Harry and Meghan and that the World Economic Forum's bosses want the Sussexes to speak at next year's billionaire gabfest.

If you had told anyone even three years ago that Harry would be spending his time hanging out with Bill Gates and Jenny from the Block they would have laughed in your face. This was the man who once dressed up as a Nazi for a party and managed to finish high school with only two A levels – a B in art and a D in geography.

Harry has said time and again, he will always make sacrifices for his family. Photo / AP
Harry has said time and again, he will always make sacrifices for his family. Photo / AP

Every life changes with marriage. With kids. With the fusing of different lives that goes into creating a family. However for Harry this shift is not only seismic but inconceivably fast.

It's 47 days since the Sussexes first signalled — via Instagram post and a shiny new website — their intention to renegotiate their royal 'contract'.

47 days later, gone is grey England, days of hand-shaking and child-hugging walkabouts. Instead, they're gabbing with the world's business elite and taking quick jaunts to the heart of Silicon Valley to brainstorm their soon-to-be-launched philanthropic foundation. It has even been reported, via the UK's Mirror, that there is a "gold rush" going on among the banking elite to secure Harry and Meghan and that the World Economic Forum's bosses want the Sussexes to speak at next year's billionaire gabfest.

If you had told anyone even three years ago that Harry would be spending his time hanging out with Bill Gates and Jenny from the Block they would have laughed in your face. This was the man who once dressed up as a Nazi for a party and managed to finish high school with only two A levels – a B in art and a D in geography.

Every life changes with marriage. With kids. With the fusing of different lives that goes into creating a family. However for Harry this shift is not only seismic but inconceivably fast.

The Sussexes are moving full steam ahead on their path to emancipation from the royal family. Photo / AP
The Sussexes are moving full steam ahead on their path to emancipation from the royal family. Photo / AP

However, unmoored from friends, family and the institution that has defined so much of his adult, life he has now been left to forge a new existence in a new country surrounded by new people. Change is natural but the extent of this reinvention has an alarming whiplash.

After her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996, Diana, Princess of Wales set about very concertedly and determinedly creating for herself the life that she wanted. Now, 24 years later, her son is doing the same thing with a passion and fervour that is reminiscent of the Princess. Here's hoping that he finds the peace, joy and purpose that she was searching for.

• Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with 15 years' experience working with a number of Australia's leading media titles.