There’s that well-known saying of “anything you can do, I can do better.” In what can only be an attempt to upstage the official British royal family’s latest offering, this seems to be the credo of Harry and Meghan as they release a new, wholly vainglorious video showing the “impact” of the Archewell Foundation in 2023. If you’ve ever seen a teenager create a flashy “what I did on my vacations” clip that is clearly designed to go viral on social media, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect from this entirely immodest offering.
Over a tinkly would-be power anthem that begins with the lyrics “Over the hills and far away/ Looking out for a better day” — remind you of anyone else living in a land far, far away? — we see clips of Harry and Meghan laughing and hugging a succession of people who look suitably overawed to be in their presence. (There is a lot of hugging.) The song majors in the kind of all-purpose uplift that Coldplay once specialized in, as the singer exhorts the listener to “Keep your head up/ Standing strong if you dream and believe you can find a way back home.” Given the much-discussed estrangement of Harry from his family — and his brother in particular — this particular “way back home” seems unlikely to be available to him any time soon.
The last few months have not been happy ones for Brand Sussex
It is a transparent PR job for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex — being filmed looking earnest on World Mental Health Day and gazing lovingly into one another’s eyes. As such, it joins the ranks of similar clips that have been released annually by the Archewell organization: traditionally something to look forward to in January, along with a Christmas hangover, an income tax bill and cold, miserable weather.
Yet this year, the video has been brought out early, as a pre-Christmas treat. Is that because the activities of Harry and Meghan have been so comprehensive, and so damn good, that they need to be celebrated a whole month earlier than usual?
Perhaps. But it’s also suspiciously convenient timing that the clip has come out both shortly after the Princess of Wales released a rather less cringeworthy video of her and her children visiting the Maidenhead baby bank. This latter video has a rather more informal and likable quality to it, as Catherine and her children pack presents for underprivileged children this Christmas. Granted, its purpose is as transparent as the Archewell offering — to show the dedication of the British royal family to good deeds and helping the less fortunate — but it feels a good deal less slick and Californian. Not least, that is, because it doesn’t have would-be inspirational singing plastered all over it like aural grouting.
The last few months have not been happy ones for Brand Sussex. The publication of Omid Scobie’s Endgame was mired in controversy, as the identities of the “royal racists” were revealed via a snafu in the Dutch translation. Meanwhile, the book’s comparatively low sales, compared to the bestselling Finding Freedom, indicate that the public are sick and tired of the Duke and Duchess attempting to offer a deeply sanitized and largely unconvincing version of their actions in the public eye.
Still, as the reality show I’m a Celebrity comes to an end, offering attempts at rehabilitation for unlikely public figures from Nigel Farage to Matt Hancock, is it truly out of the question that the 2025 edition will see a glowering, red-headed royal prince taking his turn eating kangaroo anus and bull’s penis? After the indignities Harry has faced in trying to maintain his position in the public eye, of which this is just the latest, the opportunity to offer the public “his truth” for the umpteenth time might yet be too tempting to pass up.
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.