By Robin Horsley – 5 minute read
HAVING recently read Prince Harry’s autobiography ‘Spare’, I have concluded he has exactly the same problem as do all those of us who want to see the UK ‘remain’ outside the European Union.
Harry’s book, Spare was extremely successful at launch, selling almost half a million copies in the first week it went on sale – the fastest selling non-fiction book since records began, no less. But since then the media has been full of reports about poor sales and even one claiming unwanted copies had to be pulped.
And that was what inspired me to read it, or to be more accurate, to listen to it – I bought the audio book rather than a paper copy.
The volume and style of negative media reports about the book intrigued me. Since the EU Referendum in 2016 I have developed a fairly keen eye for spotting bogus, heavily biased or ‘motivated’ news reporting. In other words, news reports that are not motivated by a real story or grounded in real facts, but are motivated by a desire to persuade people to a particular point of view or action.
It seemed to me that there was a very active effort underway to discredit the book and dissuade folks from buying and reading it. I wanted to find out why and promptly bought it.
As I wandered the countryside with my headphones listening to Harry describing his life story in intimate and revealing detail, I quickly realised the book is in fact rather brilliant.
It’s not, as some might expect, all about Harry and Meghan – she doesn’t in fact enter the narrative until the late stages of the book. It is more about Harry’s story from his earliest memories of childhood, the death of his mother and the key relationships and events in his life, right up until the present.
And there is one consistent theme that runs throughout the book; the conduct of the media and Harry’s deep contempt for it.
Understandably, Harry blames the media for his mother’s death. But he also gives countless examples of stories in the media about him, various girlfriends, and later his wife which he very plausibly claims are entirely fictional. There are many instances where he describes various news items that I vaguely remembered, and probably accepted at the time as having at least some veracity, which he explains were simply made up and had not one ounce of truth behind them.
And worse than that, he plausibly also claims there have been highly motivated negative hate campaigns promulgated by news items in the mainstream media and on social-media against his wife. Not just idle commentary, but deliberate, active, campaigns to form negative public impressions. People spending time and money to misrepresent and distort the truth.
In some instances he points the finger at his own family for negative briefing. In others for failing to refute misrepresentations or bare faced lies. But centrally he blames the media, the entire machine, for its feral, voracious habit of feeding the public with a diet of distortion, misrepresentation and fiction.
His deep love for Meghan, their own small family, and the depth of his need and desire to protect them comes through very clearly in the final stages of the book. He describes being born into the British Monarchy as being in a ‘gilded cage’ and the failure of a series of relationships with previous girlfriends who had to walk away as they simply couldn’t handle the extraordinary intrusiveness of the media into every detail of their lives.
Harry describes his own desperate longing for a sustainable relationship, a chance of starting a family of his own and becoming a father as being repeatedly thwarted by the voracious appetites of the media and the aggressive tactics of the ever present paparazzi until finally he met Meghan; Someone equipped with at least with some experience of dealing with living in the harsh glare of the media spotlight.
It’s clear Harry and Meghan’s plan is exactly what they said it was when they left the UK. They aim to make themselves financially independent from The Crown – a not inconsiderable financial problem given the need for somewhere large and sufficiently secluded to live that cannot be overlooked by the ever present glinting lenses of the paparazzi. Then there’s the need to pay for expensive twenty-four-hour security services to protect them. Their deals with Netflix, Spotify and others are clearly an attempt to build a cash pile sufficient to sustain their escape from the gilded cage over the years to come.
There is a direct parallel between Prince Harry’s story and the position of the United Kingdom having escaped its ‘gilded-cage’ of the European Union. Except of course that the EU was, at most, only ever superficially gilded.
Since 2016, the mainstream media narrative about Brexit has been as unrelentingly negative as it has been in the last few years about Harry and Meghan. A never ending stream of spurious and baseless claims about how damaging Brexit has been. Imaginary ideas that somehow Brexit is responsible for all the ills caused by Covid and a fresh outbreak of a killing war on the European continent – something which, ironically, it was claimed the existence of the EU would prevent.
And as Harry points out in his book, even if you don’t accept the stories against him as truth, the sheer weight and volume of them does eventually create an impression. Natural human defences against lies and nonsense do eventually break down under relentless pounding by the media.
The biggest threat to Harry and Meghan’s freedom are global media companies who are relentlessly working to undermine their attempts to fund their lives by damaging their reputations and thus shrivel their opportunities for building their finances.
The biggest threat to Brexit are those same media companies who pump out negative confected stories delivered to them by public relations companies – paid for with millions of pounds by those who want to see the UK returned – humiliated and with its head hanging – back to the EU cage once again.
And, like Harry does for himself and his family, I think that grand manipulation is probably the most important thread of the story we as Brexiteers must now tell in the months and years ahead. Exposing not just the truth behind the barrage of lies but exposing why, who by, and how the lies are being created and spread.
Otherwise, like Harry returned in chains to the clutches of the British establishment, our Kingdom will inevitably be dragged back into the European Union.
Freedom won and then shatteringly, lost.
Robin Horsley is founder and editor of the UK politics social media channel – YouPolitics.uk – available on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and X – with over 31k followers.
Image courtesy of the author