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Prince Harry felt like he had a “limited shelf life” during his time in the royal family, a royal author claims. Valentine Low, author of Courtiers: the Hidden Power Behind the Crown said that Harry worried about how long he would be relevant.

Prince Harry walks at Queen Elizabeth funeral
Prince Harry | Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Author says Prince Harry felt he had a ‘limited shelf life’ in the royal family

During an interview with Palace Confidential, Low shared some of the frustration that Harry felt in the royal family.

Prince Harry, Low said, felt he needed to “make an impact quickly” before he became less relevant as a royal. “Harry’s been frustrated and [he] has had a similar drive to [King] Charles in the sense that Harry’s aware that he has, or he felt, he had a limited shelf life.”

The author continued, “He felt that royals, if they’re not on the track to become monarch, they become less relevant as they grow older, as they move down the line of succession and as younger, more glamorous, more interesting royals come along.”

He added, “So Harry felt that by the time Prince George was going to 18 or so, no one would care about Harry. So he had this relatively small number of years in which he could make an impact and he was very keen to make an impact quickly.”

Low said that drove Harry to found the Invictus Games quickly. “Which is why the Invictus Games, he did it fantastically swiftly,” the author said. “From having the idea, to it being realized, was just one year — it’s breakneck speed.”

The institutional system created challenges, Low says

The host and Low also discussed the potential challenges of the system that’s in place for royals.

“You’re there as part of an institution and the queen was always very firm that the long-term security, the stability of the institution, was what mattered above any personal needs or desires,” he explained.

Low said the Sussexes’ situation was “quite complex” and a “compromise” was never in the mix. “There was never going to be any common meeting ground, there was no compromise,” he explained. “So in a sense, I think it was inevitable that they should leave. But the tragedy was it was actually so acrimonious. It didn’t have to be so acrimonious.”

He said the institution “tried hard to show flexibility” in “imaginative ways” for Harry and Meghan to exist in the royal family but it wasn’t in the cards.


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Author says the palace failed the Sussexes

Low also discussed “where the institution went wrong” in Prince Harry and Meghan’s “first year or so of their marriage and in particular between January 2019 and about late summer-early autumn of that year.”

He explained, “That was the period when Meghan and Harry, in particular Meghan, was deeply unhappy and they were obviously frustrated and no one had a big meeting in which they sat down and said, ‘Listen, this is going wrong, let’s talk about this, let’s work out how we can solve it’ and they didn’t do that until it was too late. I think that was a failure on their part.”

He added, “Yeah, Harry and Meghan could be difficult. I don’t think there’s any denying that but I don’t think the palace rose to the occasion either.”