by Will Lloyd
Friday, 14
May 2021
Debate
11:50

Prince Harry has swapped one zoo for another

He could have chosen the quiet life — but opted for Hollywood instead
by Will Lloyd
A koala and orangutan at Sydney Zoo. Credit: Getty

Vladimir Nabokov claimed that his inspiration for Lolita came from a newspaper story. It was late in 1939, or 1940, when he opened up his paper and came across an account of an ape in the Jardin des Plantes. This ape, after months of coaxing and teasing by scientists, produced the first ever charcoals drawn by an animal.

The sketch showed the bars of the poor creature’s cage.

I have no idea whether our renegade Prince Harry can sketch, but he can certainly talk, and he sounds rather like Nabokov’s ape. Yesterday in an interview on the (sigh) American Actor Dax Shepard’s podcast, he again described the monarchy as prison:

“I’ve seen behind the curtain, I’ve seen the business model, I know how this operation runs and how it works. I don’t want to be part of this. It’s a mix of being in The Truman Show and being in the zoo.”

Harry, of course, is completely right. The monarchy is our national zoo — and the animals on display are human beings. Like a zoo, it is both cruel and funny — there are many times when the squabbling monkeys within Regent’s Park have made me laugh, just as Prince Charles dressing up as a Sikh, or yakking with his plants, is comedic dynamite.

What Harry misses is the rest. The magic of monarchy — and it is magic, not logic, or duty that powers the institution — is that all this indignity is transformed, on occasions like Prince Philip’s funeral, into majesty.

So Harry has escaped. In The Truman Show, a 1999 satire starring Jim Carrey, the main character finds out that he has been secretly filmed from birth as part of a reality television show. (Now people do this to themselves for free on Instagram). As the film ends, Carrey charges up a flight of stairs, leaving his fake past behind him, running into the light.

Tellingly, the viewer never finds out what happens next. If we saw all the messy fallout, we would likely be disappointed. Truman’s dream of escape would be temporary; it would create a new set of painful problems to solve.

This is what is happening to Harry. We already know too much about his post-Royal life, and there is only more to come. He has not chosen to fade away. To enjoy privacy or enter seclusion. He has somersaulted from one zoo, the British monarchy, into another — Hollywood.

Imagine if Harry and Meghan had stayed in British Columbia. At this moment, Harry stalks along an old wooden pier to gaze out over a vast crystal lake. Meghan, splendidly housed in an enormous yurt, is feeding the very best maple syrup to Archie. A powerful eagle screeches overhead. The Prince who chose anonymity, who judged the world with silence, not words. They’d be writing fairy tales about the pair of them for centuries to come.

Instead, along with Harry’s interview, we learn that Madame Tussauds has moved its waxworks of the couple. They have left the ‘House of Windsor Zone’ and entered the ‘Hollywood Zone’. One set of bars exchanged for another.

Join the discussion


  • Harry hasn’t chosen anything. He has outsourced his choices to his wife. She has decided to leave what that poor fool described as ‘the family she never had’ , and then busily monetise her poor opinion of them.
    however, Harry has embraced her choice with enthusiasm. That screeching is sound of choices coming home to roost.

  • The law of diminishing returns is starting to kick in. The Oprah interview was previewed for days, then written about for weeks after. Interest in this interview has come and gone in a couple of days. Pretty soon nobody will even notice when this whinger spouts his self-pitying drivel, and good thing too.

  • Harry seems to wish to retain a rather romantic view of his mother wheras in reality if she were still alive she would probably be onto her 6th marriage with a polo player half her age. She would have had more children & both they and the grandchildren would continue to find her capricious and enchanting in equal measure.

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