Prince Harry Urged to Pay Tribute to Queen on U.K. Visit

Prince Harry Urged to Pay Tribute to Queen on U.K. Visit

Prince Harry paying tribute to Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to Britain “would be well received” by his family and kind words about his father would “be wise” if he wants a relationship with the royals then, a PR expert told Newsweek.

The Duke of Sussex will attend the WellChild awards in Britain on September 7, while King Charles III will be in Scotland at the tail end of his summer break.

Harry is not thought to be planning a trip to Balmoral, where Elizabeth passed away on September 8, 2022, as his Invictus Games tournament for wounded veterans begins on September 9 in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Prince Harry, Meghan at Queen Procession
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leave Westminster Hall, in London, after the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II was brought to lie in state on September 14, 2022, six days after her death. Harry will be in Britain in September a day before the anniversary.
Danny Lawson – WPA Pool/Getty Images

However, he could use his WellChild speech in London to pay tribute to the late queen and extend an olive branch to family members.

PR expert Eric Schiffer, head of Reputation Management Consultants, told Newsweek: “I think any respect for his grandmother would be well received ultimately. If he has an interest in a relationship he’d be wise to pay tribute to his father.”

And he cited Prince William‘s willingness to be photographed driving to church with Prince Andrew as evidence royal forgiveness may be possible: “I mean, if Andrew can get back then Harry certainly can.”

The trip to Britain comes after Prince Harry‘s latest Netflix project contained what was interpreted as a swipe at the monarchy.

The duke told his Heart of Invictus documentary how he struggled to cope with returning home from his second tour of Afghanistan, which brought his unresolved grief for Princess Diana to the surface.

He said: “The biggest struggle for me was no one around me really could help. I didn’t have that support structure, that network or that expert advice to identify what was actually going on with me.

“Unfortunately, like most of us, the first time you really consider therapy is when you’re lying on the floor in the fetal position, probably wishing that you dealt with some of this stuff previously. And that’s what I really want to change.”

While Harry did not call out any specific family members or mention the palace directly, it was widely interpreted as another in a long line of swipes at royal life.

Schiffer said: “Harry is still not getting the message which is that the public is over hearing him complain about his family and father and it’s hurt his brand.

“In this recent reveal, it’s not necessarily a direct shot at his family. There are many families that may not understand the subtleties of how to deal with trauma but the fact it was discussed at all—given the image challenges he’s had recently because of blaming his family—won’t help him.”

Harry and Meghan’s standing in U.S. opinion polling nose-dived after their first Netflix series Harry & Meghan and the prince’s book Spare in January. It has since recovered.

At the time, experts including Schiffer blamed the damage on the couple’s repeated criticisms of Harry’s family and urged the Sussexes to pivot back to a positive message.

Schiffer told Newsweek: “In this situation I’m sure he would agree that most families are not equipped to have that subtle level of understanding of how to deal with the depth of the trauma of what he went through.

“Those are comments that are best left behind closed doors given the challenges he’s had with his image of late and how the public have viewed him as using his family as a means to make cash.”

Schiffer suggested it was telling that Harry did not cut the quote about a lack of support from what was otherwise a mostly positive five-part documentary that sought to focus on the extraordinary sporting achievements of wounded veterans.

It is possible Harry filmed the interview before the release of Spare, particularly given that the film focuses on the previous Invictus Games, which took place in April 2022.

However, Harry was an executive producer on the project, suggesting he would have had some input into the end product.

Schiffer said: “Even if that footage preceded his debacle and the brand challenges that came from Spare he still has the power to pull it and chose not to and that’s just a decapitating decision for his brand.”

Prince Harry on Heart of Invictus
Prince Harry is interviewed for his Heart of Invictus Netflix project, which was released on August 30, 2023.
Netflix/Heart of Invictus

There are few signs currently that the project has reached anywhere near as big an audience as Harry & Meghan, which sailed to the top of the Netflix charts.

However, Schiffer said the reputational issues were more important than the commercial ones: “I don’t think it matters. What matters is him beginning to be seen differently and this doesn’t help him.”

Beyond Harry’s reference to the lack of support when he returned from Afghanistan he also came under fire for his comments about the media.

The prince’s first combat tour was cut short after his presence in Helmand province was leaked, despite an agreed media blackout.

Harry suggested “no one knew apart from the British press” without acknowledging it was actually the Drudge Report and Australian magazine New Idea who breached the embargo, rather than a U.K. organization.

The prince said: “The whole reason I was allowed to go to Afghanistan in the first place is because it was kept a secret.

“While I was there for the ten weeks no one knew apart from the British press who said ‘oh, we’ll keep quiet as long as we get access.'”

“To suddenly be on the way home,” he continued, “I was angry. But it was important for everyone around me—their safety—to remove me.”

His book, Spare, struck a different tone: “An Australian magazine had outed me, told the world I was in Afghanistan.

“The magazine was inconsequential, so no one noticed at first, but then some bell-end in America picked up the story, posted it on his worthless website, and that got picked up by the crawlers.

“Now the news was everywhere. The worst-kept secret in the Milky Way was the presence of one Prince Harry in Helmand Province.”

Jack Royston is chief royal correspondent for Newsweek, based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jack_royston and read his stories on Newsweek‘s The Royals Facebook page.

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