Thirty days ago, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle officially left their roles as senior royals, and when they left, they agreed not to use their royal titles in their private lives. Harry also had to give up some of the honorary military appointments he held after leaving the Army in 2015. For a month now, he’s been “just” Harry, as he put it in March, for the first time in his entire life. Now, the couple and their nearly one-year-old son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, are self-isolating in Los Angeles for the duration of the coronavirus crisis. Like the rest of us, Harry has been talking with his friends and reflecting on his life, according to a report in the Telegraph, and he has mentioned some regrets.
“Harry has told friends he is really missing the Army as well as his military appointments. He misses the camaraderie of being in the forces,” a royal insider told the newspaper. “He has been telling friends that he still can’t believe this has happened. He can’t believe his life has been turned upside down.”
The source added that the changes haven’t upset his happiness with Meghan. “He was in a happy place when he was serving in the Army, then he met Meghan and since then life has been great. But I don’t think he foresaw things turning out quite as they did,” the insider added. “Of course he doesn’t blame Meghan. There is just a sense that he might have been better protected if he was still in the Army.”
When the palace announced Queen Elizabeth’s agreement with the couple in February, it noted that he still had the rank of Major, like any retired soldier would have. Since then he has participated in volunteer activities for service members, like March’s Invictus Games recording session with Jon Bon Jovi. He was set to attend the games in the Netherlands in May, but the pandemic has delayed them until 2021.
In February, Princess Diana’s former private secretary Patrick Jephson wrote for Vanity Fair about the loneliness that she felt when she first left royal life and no longer had a packed schedule. He predicted that Harry might soon come to feel similarly. “Somewhere, perhaps tucked away in the back of a Sussex mind, there’s a sheaf of blank diary pages. Not this year perhaps, or even next, but eventually the lost familiarity of habit, tradition, and a comforting routine may tug at the Duke’s heart,” he wrote. “It’s often been observed that Harry seemed happiest in the Army—with all those rules and regulations and discipline and responsibilities, those irksome, stifling, mundane duties.”
Eventually Diana restarted her life as a jet-setting, philanthropic icon, and was able to replace some of the mundane duties with unprecedented feats that proved her mettle, like her walk across a field of landmines in Angola. Harry has also been filling his time with charity activities and other commitments. Earlier this month he took a trip across L.A. with Meghan to deliver prepared meals to vulnerable people, and this week, he was featured in an episode of Thomas and Friends.
Despite that, the pandemic has already delayed some of the couple’s carefully laid plans and made his schedule much emptier than it would be otherwise. In the past, Harry has said that he liked how being in the military gave him a sense of normalcy. Maybe he can take some comfort in the fact that he will never be more normal than he is right now, sheltering in place with a young child, wondering when this is all going to end.
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