Prince Harry’s role in the royal family — or lack thereof — was cemented years before he met Meghan Markle, royal author Robert Lacey tells SheKnows exclusively. Prince William and Prince Harry are a case of “an heir and a spare:” one prince bound to be king, and the other fawned over in his youth and eventually removed from the public eye. Harry, like second-born royal siblings Princess Margaret and Prince Andrew before him, carried the burden of never quite knowing where he would ultimately fall in the royal family’s priorities. So, while Lacey contends that Meghan offered a particularly tempting alternative to life as a royal, he believes Harry’s fate lay outside the royal family either way.
Author of royals tell-all Battle of Brothers, historian Lacey has a long history with the family, and he’s long-feared Harry aging out of his relevance in the public eye. While Harry certainly wouldn’t miss the paparazzi, he would also lose a great deal of power, status, and purpose within the royal family.
“They say the life of a spare is very cruel. They start off as costars,” Lacey explains. “I mean, your elder mothers or grandmothers will remember the little princesses, and Elizabeth and Margaret were treated and presented just the same. Two charming little girls, equal status.”
— SheKnows (@SheKnows) October 23, 2020
“But with every passing day and obviously with marriage and the birth of children, it’s all downhill from then onwards,” he continues.
So, as Prince William married Kate Middleton and they began their family, Harry may have already been feeling his relevance fade — even if it wasn’t apparent to the public.
“In the end, the frustration would have come out,” Lacey contends. “I mean, clearly the royal plan and expectation was that Harry would marry a nice, interesting girl called Henrietta or Annabel and go and live in the country and be happy with the role of spare, just as he had been very loyally during the early years of the marriage of William and Kate.”
Perhaps Harry thought for a time as well that this would be his role in life — not because he didn’t have the desire to leave, but because he hadn’t yet met the person who gave him an alternate vision in which to believe.
Kate Middleton and her kids got out of town and became regular tourists for a day! Find out why Princess Diana would be so proud. https://t.co/4efayrZQub
— SheKnows (@SheKnows) October 28, 2020
“Just as Yoko Ono stole John from that Fab Four, Meghan stole Harry from the Royal Fab Four,” Lacey says, before clarifying what “stole” can really mean when we’re talking about diverting the course of someone’s life.
“[Meghan] offered a more challenging and inspiring and creative destiny than being his brother’s perpetual backup,” the author says.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Meghan’s not the only one who got a fairy tale ending from this marriage.
Click here to see the 100 best photos of the royal family from the past 20 years.
More from SheKnows
Best of SheKnows