Nothing duller for those of us not in therapy than listening to people who are in therapy talking about it, something they seem to like to do incessantly, at every opportunity. For this reason, my heart sank during the Oprah interview — which I’d been looking forward to tremendously — when early into his appearance, Prince Harry made an unsmiling reference to the ‘many years’ he had spent ‘doing the work — and doing my own learning’. Here we go, I thought.
Sure enough, not long later he was telling the ludicrously softball interviewer of his family, his father, particularly: ‘they only know what they know. I’ve tried to educate them, through the process that I’ve been educated.’ Difficult to imagine how much the Windsors must have enjoyed that. But what of the content of Harry’s syllabus for them? Surely the white-knuckle psychic energy unleashed by the simple post-supper suggestion in Buckingham Palace ‘hey guys, let’s talk about our truths’ would be sufficient to tear a hole in the space-time continuum. ‘You go first, Uncle Andrew.’
Britain’s royal family does not do introspection for several very good reasons, high on the list of which, presumably, is the vertigo-inducing realization one is really just a well paid celebrity reality show participant/tourist attraction hybrid one might be forced to have. Better by far, then, simply to do what everyone else does (those of us not in therapy, anyway), which is to keep buggering on while trying not to think too terribly hard about the meaning of it all. It’s an approach that, by and large, has served them well over the years.
Anyway, now Harry has accepted a job as something called a Chief Impact Officer at BetterUp, a Silicon Valley business that claims, very simply, it is ‘changing the world by bringing the power of transformation to each and every person’. The prince has even had a corporate headshot done and declared, in an accompanying statement that manages, as these things always do, to be both whizzy and bloodless: ‘I’ve personally found working with a BetterUp coach to be invaluable. I was matched with a truly awesome coach who has given me sound advice and a fresh perspective.’
Easily influenced, this morning I downloaded the BetterUp app. After answering a few preliminary questions, the last of which concerned my willingness to invest in self-improvement — I was paired with three unprepossessing-looking and sounding potential life-coaches, each of whom seemed recently to have worked within a corporate human resources department. Unimpressed and uninspired, I deleted the app. Predictably, now I am being bombarded with text messages and emails — ‘you’re almost there!’ — imploring me to continue my journey of investment and discovery. A company valuation of $1.7 billion doesn’t happen by accident, I suppose.
Perhaps I should be grateful, though, for another opportunity to give yet more money to Prince Harry. After all, I am certainly appreciative of the unstinting manner in which he has lately gone about opening the empowering game of intersectional victimhood to the one group that previously had seemed banned from playing — which is to say privately educated middle-aged white men.
Sent away to drafty boarding schools at a tender age, there to be raised lovelessly by terrifying perverts and sadists — surely we should have some place in the hierarchy of cultural grievances. Instead, for too long we have been spat out, strangely resilient yet deeply repressed, into adulthood, only to be told everyone is already very angry with us for oppressing them. Until Prince Harry took up our cause, it seemed all we could do was smile thinly and agree.
In the hullaballoo that followed Oprah-gate, about racism mainly, but also who made who cry, I feel Harry’s repeated references to being in therapy were overlooked, and much else beside. At one point, he even did the unthinkable for a royal by admitting the whole institution is just a media construct to sell newspapers.
‘It’s what’s referred to as the “invisible contract” behind closed doors, between the institution and the tabloids,’ he told Oprah. ‘There’s a level of control by fear, which has existed for generations.’ Oprah asked if the relationship between tabloids and monarchy was purely symbiotic. ‘That’s the idea,’ came the reply. Call him whatever you like, but this is surely the most self-aware thing any British royal has said in public in living memory.
Deep into the interview, Meghan did that thing Americans do so much better than Brits, which is to say something fantastically stupid very confidently — and then to put the matter beyond debate by appending the word ‘right’ to it. The effect in this instance was to make me think I must be the most amazing moron for not having already grasped this self evident truth. ‘Life is about storytelling, right?’ she said quickly. ‘The stories we tell ourselves, the stories we’re told, what we buy into.’
A few moments later, she ventured the story she was actualizing for herself was ‘greater than any fairytale you’ve ever read’. Considering this now — notwithstanding the fact fairytales are completely made up — it’s impossible not to think BetterUp might have got the wrong Sussex.
If she couldn’t be Chief Impact Officer, she’d certainly make a hell of a life coach — which is probably a fair description of what she is doing for her husband: reprogramming him so that he might, in the words of the company’s website, ‘live a more meaningful, vibrant life, with greater clarity, purpose and passion’. Or, to put it another way, enabling him to play a fuller part in the reality she is constructing.
Before he met her, Harry said in the interview, he was ‘trapped — and I didn’t know I was trapped’. His wife had saved him ‘without question’. Conscious, perhaps, that this statement might make it seem like she was the brains behind the scheme to leave the royal family, Meghan was quick to point out: ‘he ultimately called it… he made a decision that certainly saved my life’.
Who saved who is now, of course, thankfully, a mere detail. The important thing is they’re both in the land of the free, and the British prince has got a job flogging expensive pseudo-therapy to corporate droids the world over.
Life’s about storytelling, right?