Prince Harry ‘did not want to be in the same room as the Queen’ – more fool him

Camilla and Prince Harry stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace following Trooping the Colour on June 16, 2012
Fraught relationship: Prince Harry begged his father not to marry Camilla - WireImage

Hostilities flared up last week between Prince Harry and Queen Camilla. Or rather, the Duke of Sussex apparently launched an unprovoked volley in the direction of a 75-year-old woman. In an irony that will no doubt escape this self-proclaimed feminist and Lochinvar of the New World, Harry, I hear, preferred not to be in the same room with his stepmother when he spoke to the King about his cancer diagnosis, following the most precipitous and historic mercy mission to Blighty since Lend Lease. As olive branches go, it’s a massive opportunity missed by the Prince of Petulance – though it’s likely our laidback Queen wouldn’t have minded either way.

I have often thought that Prince Harry is the most sedulous flycatcher in recent history. But his quarry has become Brittaniae Regiae Feminiae. Aside from Harry’s word being about as trustworthy as a cowboy builder, the Duke should know better than to disrespect the distaff side. Remember the howls and lamentations when Meghan was excluded from any family conference. But the trouble with Harry is that he fights like a coward, refusing to stand up to a comparable foe, and on the rare occasion he meets one, he takes refuge in a dog bowl. In short, Prince Valiant he is not.

Harry, despite his one trick phoney Californian posturing, is the typical Anglo-Saxon who has stuck to his hereditary guns. He is so violently blowhard, and in this fact lies the cause of the ridiculous figure he commonly cuts in the eyes of others. He brags and blusters so incessantly that if he actually had the combined virtues of Jesus Christ, Aristotle and El Cid he would still go beyond the facts and so appear a mere Bombastes Furioso. This has taken on an almost pathological character and is probably no more than a protective mechanism erected to conceal an inescapable sense of inferiority.

Prince Harry leaves the High Court after giving evidence in London, Tuesday, June 6, 2023
’Evil stepmother’: Prince Harry used the language of a 12-year-old to describe Camilla - AP

Even so, I do not understand his continuing choler where the Queen is concerned. Perhaps, having dispatched his brother and sister-in-law, he had run out of family members to insult. I have known Camilla since I was 18, and she is palpably incapable of the scheming Harry has often accused her of. To what has sometimes been her detriment, she is incapable of machinations of any kind. With her clean tradition as the daughter of country gentry, her complexion that rejects make-up and the elements, and her forthright, genuine approach, the closest she has come to “scheme” is on a Scrabble board.

It is instructive to note that the Duke of Sussex has admitted to taking psychedelic drugs in the past. Nor does he have much in the way of a cranial cavity. Yet his past language of “evil stepmothers” and “villains” belongs in the sort of animated film one usually stops watching at the age of 12. No one believes in another person absolutely, and Camilla has a backstory that the public has not always viewed with favour or impartiality.

Edmund Burke wrote of the execution of Queen Marie Antoinette: “I thought 10,000 swords must have leaped from their scabbards, to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult… But the age of chivalry is gone.” There was a time when the then Mrs Parker Bowles could not go about her daily business without ordure being thrown at her. Diana, on the other hand, successfully painted herself as a plaster saint and the victim of an unscrupulous rival. Camilla could not compete, and with her innate dignity, remained uncomplaining and silent.

King Charles III and Queen Camilla travel from Clarence House to Buckingham Palace, on February 6, 2024.
It was Charles who desired to marry Camilla, who is devoid of ambition and snobbery - Henry Nicholls

After Diana’s death, and when I was deputy editor of The Spectator, I sometimes breakfasted with Mark Bolland, who was Charles’s Deputy Private Secretary. Without wishing to betray any confidences, I received the distinct impression that it was Charles who desired to marry Camilla, whilst she was content with a less formal arrangement. The subject of her one day becoming Queen was never broached. There are some people who are devoid of ambition and snobbery, and Camilla is one of them. Thus I do not understand Harry’s bile, and cannot sympathise with it.

Like most forms of hatred it seems based on envy; envy of the fact that his father’s marriage to Camilla is, as he has publicly conceded in the past, “very happy”, and envy, perhaps, of the humorous and invaluable support she will give him now. Harry seems to have a problem with other people’s happiness, and has spent the past year trying to make his closest relatives miserable. He has a suspicion of anyone with a superior capacity for having a good time. Was Camilla wretched in her marriage, he would doubtless rush to embrace her and assure the public of his friendship.

There is possibly another, equally unpalatable explanation. It occurs to me that the Queen Consort’s life of royal service and her growing popularity in this country contrasts too deeply with Harry’s existence of grotesque futility abroad. I do not trust for an instant his continuous assertions that he is an infinitely more fulfilled and much better person. Could it be perhaps that under his shiny new skin, Prince Harry remains the sexist buffoon of his youth?