Why Paparazzi Remind Prince Harry of the ‘Bad Stuff’

Prince Harry has been in the headlines lately for a new reason: he’s hitting back. The royal family has long been silent in the face of attacks from the tabloids, in keeping with Queen Elizabeth’s “Golden Rule.”

She expects her family to “Never complain, never explain.” But he’s come to a point where their treatment of his wife Meghan Markle is no longer bearable.

This is a deeply emotional issue for him because the paparazzi’s constant presence takes him back to the worst days of his life. 

‘A wound that festers’

Prince Harry photographed at a royal event
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex | Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images

In a recent documentary about Prince Harry and Markle’s tour of Africa, he opened up about the effect Princess Diana’s death had on him. He was only 12 years old when she died in a car crash that was widely blamed on the relentless pursuit of the paparazzi.

Not only had the young boy lost his mother in a brutal way, but he also had to face royal duties in the midst of his grief.

In the years that followed, the pain of that loss has never lessened for Prince Harry, in part because the tabloids have never stopped following him.

He called her death “a wound that festers” and said that the actions of the paparazzi continually remind him of his mother’s death. Instead of being able to remember the woman she was, he’s plunged back into the horror of the night she died.

He’s said that “every single time I see a camera, every single time I hear a click, every single time I see a flash, it takes me straight back. So, in that respect, it’s the worst reminder of her life, as opposed to the best.”

It matters even more now

Now that Prince Harry is married and a new father, these fears have become even worse. Markle is clearly struggling with all the negative attention.

In a clip from the documentary, she’s shown giving a remarkably vulnerable response to a question about how she’s coping.

She spoke about hard it is to be scrutinized as a newlywed and a new mother and she became emotional, saying, “also thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I’m okay, but it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.”

Prince Harry clearly loves his wife and watching her be subjected to a similar attack that his mother went through makes his painful memories even worse. 

Some worry about his reactions

Prince Harry recently made a bold statement defending his wife. It’s a highly unusual move for a member of the royal family to respond to negative press attention in any way, and he’s not only responding, but going on the offensive.

Some royal insiders worry that his response is an overreaction that stems from his complicated grief for his mother. 

According to an unnamed friend of Diana’s, Prince Harry has always regretted that he couldn’t protect his mother. Even though he was just a child, a part of him seems to feel that he should have been able to prevent the press from hounding her.

This friend believes he is bringing those feelings into the situation with Markle, saying, “In his mind, it is happening all over again and he is determined to stop it. The truth is the situations are entirely different.”

While Markle isn’t being chased by the paparazzi in the same way Diana was, their negative attention has clearly reminded Prince Harry of another time, when another woman he loved was being mistreated.

His response may not be entirely rational, but for many it’s understandable.