Why Prince Harry Is Having "His Toughest Week" Yet Since Leaving Britain
"Of all the changes in Harry's life, this has been the most difficult one for him," an insider says.
Like many of us, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have largely remained at home for the past three months due to the coronavirus pandemic. For now, home is Tyler Perry's house in Los Angeles, where the couple has been staying since arriving in the duchess's hometown earlier this year. While a friend of the couple told The Daily Mail that Meghan and Harry celebrated their second wedding anniversary last week privately with Mexican food and margaritas, this past weekend was decidedly more somber for Harry. According to a royal insider, Memorial Day made it "his toughest week so far."
As U.S. citizens marked Memorial Day with commemorations of those who served in the military, "it was just another reminder of what Harry has lost," the insider told me. "While he is enjoying his newfound freedom with Meghan in Los Angeles, he desperately misses his military affiliations and the camaraderie he felt being around fellow soldiers representing the Queen and the U.K. at various events."
The insider added: "Memorial Day in the States was another painful reminder of being cut off from a part of his life that meant so much to him."
Harry has confided in friends that he "misses the camaraderie" of life in the Armed Forces, where he served for 10 years, including two tours of Afghanistan. Earlier this year, according to The Telegraph, the prince told friends he "cannot believe" what happened during the Megxit negotiations, which forced him to give up his military affiliations when the Sussexes decided to step back as senior royals and leave the U.K.
According to the terms of the agreement, Harry was made to relinquish his roles as Captain General of the Royal Marines, Honorary Air Force Commandant of the Royal Air Force Base Honington, and Honorary Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Naval Commands' Small Ships and Diving.
In January, at a private dinner in London, the prince told the crowd that he had hoped to "continue serving the Queen, the Commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn't possible." Harry retains the rank of Major and has pledged to "continue his unwavering support to the military community in a non-official capacity," the Sussex Royal website notes.
"Of all the changes in Harry's life, this has been the most difficult one for him," said my source. "He has stayed in touch with the royal family with calls and Zoom and is even speaking to William now, but not having the opportunity to represent the Crown on important occasions involving the military or wear the uniform has been incredibly difficult for him. Having to cancel this year's Invictus Games due to the pandemic was another crushing blow."
Earlier in May, Harry did remotely acknowledge VE Day—which stands for "Victory in Europe Day" and marks the day towards the end of World War II when fighting against Nazi Germany in Europe came to an end. He taped a video message in Los Angeles that was posted to the Invictus Games Twitter account, where he said:
As we commemorate VE Day this weekend and pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of the entire Second World War generation, we should also have been gathering together in the Netherlands to kick start The Invictus Games 2020 in The Hague. Life has changed dramatically for all of us since I was last in The Hague, but the IG2020 team has done an incredible job to adapt so quickly to the situation and they are busy putting plans in place for next year. The new dates will be shared with you very soon.
Here's Harry's message in full:
In March, Harry recorded a video in which he discussed his decision to postpone the Invictus Games, saying: "This decision was the most sensible and the safest option for all of you and all of your families, and everybody else involved in these games."
Earlier this month, Harry also recorded a tribute for VE Day that aired on Britain's The One Show on BBC Two. In the segment, he saluted a group of Allied pilots known as the Guinea Pig Club, whose burn injuries were so brutal that they allowed themselves to be subjected to experimental surgery.
"In some ways, watching ceremonies commemorating Memorial Day from his new home in Los Angeles must have made Harry feel like a man without a country. He could not participate in ceremonies in America but he also knows, when this pandemic is over, he cannot put on a uniform and return to Britain to represent the Queen under the terms of his exit agreement," said my source. "An important part of his identity has been muted and he is struggling with that." And for more on Harry and Meghan's post-royal plans, check out How Coronavirus Changed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Royal Exit.
Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.