11المميز لديناMix of languages

The fact is Charles COULD have seen Harry, but it’s often upsetting for him He won’t get well if he’s overwrought

Echoes of the past were everywhere. An estranged royal waving to cheering fans, while on the other side of town the reserved applause appropriate for a dignified palace garden party.

For a moment it was like throwing a switch back to the 1990s when for five brutal years, support for the House of Windsor oscillated between those backing Princess Diana and those standing with Prince Charles and the rest of the Royal Family.

It is not quite a re-run of the poisonous ‘War of the Waleses’. How could it be? But there was something eerily familiar — and profoundly sad — as two rival royal camps staked out their ground this week.

Today, Harry is the Diana figure — or at least that is how he wishes to be seen. The outsider, nobly fighting the same cruel and insensitive institution that his late mother railed against.
The fact is Charles COULD have seen Harry, but it's often upsetting

To her they were the ‘men in grey suits’, the palace courtiers who wanted to control her royal life and, she believed, to destroy it. To Harry they were not just undermining him but also his wife Meghan, ignoring her cries for help and not caring that she was pregnant and suicidal. He also had a memorable — and sinister — phrase for the figures he blamed at the top of the Palace hierarchy: ‘The bee, the wasp and the fly.’

The closer you look, the more striking the parallels are. In the face of the hostility she often had at home, where she was constantly accused of upstaging her royal in-laws, Diana found consolation on official visits overseas.

This weekend Harry and Meghan are attempting to shore up their own damaged reputations with a faux-royal tour of Nigeria.

When Diana launched her first major post-separation foreign trip, in Nepal, it provided the first sign of an attempt to diminish her status. The band that welcomed her on the runway at Kathmandu airport played Colonel Bogey, not the National Anthem.

But the Princess’s star quality was too dazzling and too powerful for any clumsy diplomatic downgrading. She was an asset that was simply too precious to be sacrificed. Harry once had that megawatt appeal, but four years of criticism of his family has left only a fading memory of those starry days. There was one final sequence before Harry left Britain in the early hours — but this was in private.

The reunion between the Prince and Meghan took place in the soulless surroundings of the Windsor VIP suite at Heathrow.

His wife, unable or unwilling to set foot in her husband’s home country, had flown from Los Angeles and he was waiting to join her for their onward British Airways flight to Abuja.
The fact is Charles COULD have seen Harry, but it's often upsetting

As a postscript on his three days in London, it was as telling as the gates that were shut to him at Buckingham Palace. And by stressing the ‘unofficial’ nature of this 72-hour mini royal tour, Harry will be hoping to sidestep any debate about how he is classified on the international scene.

There will be, however, some comparisons with his mother that Harry won’t like. For Diana chose to stay and fight for her future inside the Royal Family and not flee.

The break-up of his parents’ marriage saw not just staff take sides but friends too. Similar rifts have opened up three decades later. Those friends who were once close to William and Harry have had to choose which royal prince to stand by — or had the choice made for them.

So the sight of Diana’s Spencer family allies — his uncle Earl Spencer and aunt Lady Jane Fellowes — supporting Harry at the service at St Paul’s Cathedral this week celebrating ten years of the Invictus Games was intriguing.

One of Diana’s first acts after the split from Charles was to make her eldest sister Lady Sarah a lady-in-waiting. She was a lively and dependable companion on the Princess’s overseas adventures who would always have her back.

The message was implicit — Spencer blood was thicker than water. But the two were also incredibly close.

Tours were punctuated by their laughter as they giggled over unforeseen mishaps.

When a hapless equerry opened a diplomatic pouch containing a vibrator which had been bought as a practical joke, Lady Sarah was on hand as Diana gravely observed: ‘Oh, that must be for me,’ before both women dissolved in guffaws.

Away from duties they were close, too, with Diana sometimes taking food prepared by her palace chef to Sarah’s Chelsea flat for a gossipy supper.

So what should we make of the presence of Harry’s aunt and uncle at his side in St Paul’s and whom he greeted with affectionate hugs? Three of his Spencer first cousins were at the service, too.

On the surface, their attendance would seem significant.

But it also would be a mistake to assume that it was somehow deliberately provocative.

As the wife of Lord Fellowes, the late Queen’s long-time private secretary, Lady Jane spent years supporting both her husband’s royal masters and her sister. It didn’t always work and there were times when the two women were estranged.But ever since Diana’s death, both of her sisters have been close to Harry.

They took on maternal duties, turning up at school football matches to cheer on Harry and William just as Diana used to, and, later, were frequently in attendance at landmark moments. They were both guests at his son Archie’s Windsor Castle christening and appeared in the official photographs.

Growing up at Kensington Palace, Harry’s Fellowes cousins were close family companions and there were frequent joint holidays.

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