The Case of Harry: How a Fairytale Prince Made a…


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If there is one figure who is not a role model, it is Prince Harry, son of King Charles III of Great Britain. His ghostwriter-assisted memoirs, Savingpresents not a fairytale prince but a postmodern anti-hero who wants to destroy the old structures around him.

Everything through the prism of the self

The troublesome details of the author’s tragic life are better left unread. What makes the book important is its cultural impact. The Prince reflects the prevailing ethos of seeing everything through the prism of the self. He plays the eternal victim in a painful whimper that sickens the viewer. Such behavior inevitably leads to unhappiness – even in people like the Prince who seem to have it all. His shocking actions fit into today’s culture of gratification and politically correct victimhood. What makes his case different is the sheer scale of the drama unfolding.

Unfathomable self-absorption

The topic of self-absorption is truly inscrutable. The book’s message is that there is a universe called Prince Harry that should be the subject of everyone’s attention. There is no detail in his life that is uninteresting. There are no rules for him to follow. His quest for happiness should not be hindered by anything.

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Real men accept suffering

To penetrate this universe of self-worship is the great injustice of rules, duties and tragedy. Such intrusions happen in every man’s life, especially those who should play major roles in society, like the prince. Most courageous men – true Christians – accept suffering and become individuals of character and honor.

Avoiding discomfort becomes obsession

But the prince wants nothing to do with such proposals. Avoiding discomfort becomes an obsession. There is no passion or sin that cannot be justified. Hard drugs numb the pain of his dissolute life. Everything is a cause of anxiety and panic attacks. Everything said to Meghan must be interpreted as racist. Tradition and monarchy, the source of all public interest to him, mean nothing to him in this closed universe.

Service, a pleasure?

Another theme that pervades the debate surrounding the book is the prince’s aversion to slavery. The title Saving (Dutch: reserve) is said to come from the comment of the then Prince Charles, who, after hearing of the birth of his youngest son, said that he now had an heir (William) and a reserve (in Harry). The prince finds this role humiliating. Perhaps the prince forgets that his grandmother, Elizabeth II, was also a “reserve” who unexpectedly ascended the throne and lived a life of sacrifice and service. That is why she was loved by hundreds of millions worldwide.

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Postmodern man

However, Prince Harry refuses to live in someone else’s shadow. He resents any conformity to pre-established standards that prevent him from being himself. The postmodern notion of the self-created man, who constructs himself based on whims and desires, is very much present in this obsession. Again, men have traditionally always found purpose in life by serving an ideal higher than themselves. Serving God and neighbor can be the source of great joy that eludes the prince.

Cold secular vision

The most tragic part of the dispute is the complete absence of God and religion. His path follows the cold secular vision of society that excludes God from the panorama. His situation well reflects the words of St. Augustine, who speaks of two kinds of love: “The love of God to forget self, or the love of self to forget and deny God.”

Awaiting God’s grace

This divine presence is the missing ingredient that would give meaning and purpose to the prince’s life. Unfortunately, it would do the same for all the royal actors in this sad drama. God’s saving grace would breathe new life into those institutions which, as the Queen’s funeral proved, so well express the aspirations of the English people. The corrosive effect of the ruling atheistic culture on the royal family makes the plea all the more relevant: God save the king!

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Nothing unique

There is nothing unique about Prince Harry’s story. The same plot applies to anyone who has taken the disastrous path of postmodernity. Every tradition and social structure must be questioned and every narrative denied.

Representative figure

What sets his story apart from others is his enormous impact on society. Like it or not, Prince Harry is what sociologists call a representative figure. Every society has the representative figures that act as unifying symbols. Making the great sacrifice to do their duty, they can take the principles, moral qualities and virtues desired and needed by their societies, states or nations and translate them into concrete programs of life and culture.

Alasdair MacIntyre

The moral philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre writes that such characters “are, so to speak, the moral representatives of their culture, and they are so, moreover, in the way that moral and metaphysical ideas and theories assume embodied existence in the social world through them.”

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A crisis of duty

One reason for the current crisis is that representative people at all levels of society are not doing what they should be doing. When natural leaders like Prince Harry do their duty and sacrifice themselves to be a role model, they do enormous good for society and contribute to a rich and uplifting civic life. They can help in the sanctification of souls through their promotion of virtue.

Anti hero

But when these figures abuse their position and become bad role models, they bring society and themselves down. The autobiography Saving is a tragic example of how low it can go. As the Gospel says, salt that loses its flavor is fit only to be trodden underfoot. When such figures become anti-heroes, they are like spare parts that reject their calling because they want to be useless punctures instead.

This article originally appeared on tfp.org.

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