How the Prince of Piffle went from bloke to woke: He used to live for beer and naked billiards… now Harry’s become a master of weird wokespeak. But never fear – JAN MOIR is here to translate
Once upon a time there was a prince who lived for drinking beer and watching rugby and sometimes running around in the scuddy, occasionally while playing nude billiards with comely young maidens.
He was popular, he was kind, he joined the Army to serve his country in Afghanistan and everyone adored him.
The Harry we used to know and love was a straightforward, straight-talking, two scant A-levels sort of bloke.
The prince has become in cyberspace that most terrifying figure in contemporary life — a man with a mission and a website
Then that all changed. Harry met a girl! He got married. He moved to California and different things became important to him. Things such as climate change, mental health, social media, mindfulness, raindrops, and myriad other subjects he could lecture us on at length, with passion, ad infinitum.
Somewhere along the line, he mutated from cheeky chappie to woke bloke, from devil may care, to caring very, very much indeed. So much so that he wanted you to care, too. And as he changed, so did how he talked.
Over recent years, Prince Harry has become a master of his very own brand of wokespeak. A kind of jargon-led, plum dumb waffle, sugared with an endearing raspberry ripple of his customary mild confusion. The result is an Eton mess of words that entrance his fans but utterly bamboozle the rest of us.
What the hell is he going on about? No wonder that the words ‘Harry’ and ‘clarity’ are rarely used in the same sentence.
In the modern manner, he is now an expert at constructing elaborate, airy sentence soufflés that mask the essential nothingness of what he is saying. In his speeches and utterances, he has become obsessed with key words such as authentic, trapped, lost, truth and oh God, compassion.
The prince has become in cyberspace that most terrifying figure in contemporary life — a man with a mission and a website. On the Archewell site that promotes the global good works undertaken by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex he states: ‘I truly believe that good mental fitness is the key to powerful leadership, productive communities and a purpose-driven self.’
Is that like a smart car? Who knows, but the prince has had a lot of therapy. What was that like, Harry? ‘It was like the bubble was burst and I plucked my head out of the sand and gave it a good shake-off.’
Car, ostrich, soap, shake? I’m confused already.
In his infamous interview with Oprah, Harry said that, unlike other members of his family, he wanted to ‘just, like, just be, just be yourself. Just be genuine. Just be authentic.’
But what is that? In a bid to find out, we tiptoe through the tulips of princely verbiage that denote Harry’s great awokening. We stand side by side, the puzzled swine before whom Prince Harry casts his pearls of woke wisdom from his great pulpit of blather and bull.
Here is his incredible journey from yahoo to guru in his own inimitable words . . .
Awkward that one of Prince Harry’s very first public statements — in 2005 — is an apology for wearing a Nazi uniform to a fancy dress party
Awkward that one of Prince Harry’s very first public statements — in 2005 — is an apology for wearing a Nazi uniform to a fancy dress party.
What he said: ‘I’m very sorry if I caused any offence or embarrassment to anyone. It was a poor choice of costume and I apologise.’
What he meant: ‘Whassup! Oh no, do I have to read this boring statement out loud? I don’t know why you are so angry Pater, because Straubs and Skippy thort it was a right laff.’
Opening Concert for Diana, 2007
THEN: ‘Hello Wembley! It’s great to see so many of you here tonight. Of course, when William and I first had this idea, we forgot that we’d end up standing here, desperately trying to think up something funny to say. Well, we’ll leave that to the funny people. And Ricky Gervais.’
NOW: Can you imagine a time when Prince Harry would appear in an arena in front of thousands and not lecture them about saving the planet? He even made a joke that is actually funny. Remember when he used to do that? Remember?
THEN: In 2009, Prince Harry is forced to apologise for calling a fellow cadet at Sandhurst ‘our little P*** friend’. He also accuses another of looking ‘like a raghead’ in racist slurs captured on video in 2006.
NOW: At the Princess Diana Awards last year, Harry seizes the opportunity to lecture us all that ‘institutional racism has no place in our societies, yet it is still endemic’, and that ‘unconscious bias must be acknowledged without blame, to create a better world.’ Yet he did not acknowledge or apologise for his mistakes in this area, nor mention he was sent on a diversity course as a result.
Sometimes what is not said is even more important than what is said, don’t you think?
When his engagement to Meghan Markle is announced in 2017, Prince Harry is not long out of the Army. Indeed, he speaks of his fiancee’s entree into the Royal Family as though she were taking part in a military exercise.
‘For me, it’s an added member of the family. It’s another team player . . . what we want to do is be able to carry out the right engagements, carry out our work and try and encourage others in the younger generation to be able to see the world in the correct sense.’
She’s a woman, Harry, not an all-terrain tank. Still, note that use chilling use of ‘correct sense’.’ Already he is moving into the role of jolly green tyrant convinced of the rightness of his views.
And Meghan employs the doltish Californian mindfulness her fiance will soon embrace, too. By marrying him, she is ‘investing time and energy to make it happen’, ‘nurturing our relationship’ and focusing ‘on who we are as a couple’.
THE MEGHAN INFLUENCE
Her words, his mouth . . .
2018: ‘What Meghan wants, Meghan gets.’
2018: ‘As my wife said many years ago when working on menstrual health and health education, this is not about periods but potential.’
2019: ‘As my wife often reminds me with one of her favourite quotes by Martin Luther King Jr. — “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”’
2020: ‘You know, when you go into a shop with your children and you only see white dolls, do you even think: “That’s weird, there is not a black doll there?” ’
March 2021: Harry gets a new job as chief impact officer of mental health firm BetterUp. ‘My goal is to lift up critical dialogues around mental health, build supportive and compassionate communities, and foster an environment for honest and vulnerable conversations. And my hope is to help people develop their inner strength, resilience, and confidence.’
May 2021: Interview with the Armchair Expert podcast about mental health: ‘Any single one of us, whoever we are, wherever we come from, we’re always trying to find some way to be able to mask the actual feeling. And be able to try and make us feel different to how we are actually feeling, perhaps from having a feeling, right?’
May 2021: At the Vax Live concert, Harry even attempts to ‘reunite the world,’ after coronavirus. ‘None of us should be comfortable thinking that we could be fine when so many others are suffering. In reality, and especially with this pandemic, when any suffer, we all suffer. We must look beyond ourselves with empathy and compassion for those we know, and those we don’t.’
HARRY THE DRIPPING TAP
‘I believe even more that climate change and mental health are two of the most pressing issues that we’re facing and in many ways, they are linked,’ he declares on The Me You Can’t See documentary aired on Apple TV in May.
‘The connecting line is about our collective wellbeing and when our collective wellbeing erodes that affects our ability to be caretakers of ourselves, of our communities and of our planet ultimately . . . we have to create a more supportive culture for each other where challenges don’t have to live in the dark . . . and where physical and mental health can be treated equally because they are one.’
Sorry to barge in, but did anyone leave the taps running?
‘A lot of people are doing the best they can to try and fix these issues but that whole sort of analogy of walking into the bathroom with a mop when the bath is over-flooding rather than just turning the tap off — are we supposed to accept that these problems are just going to grow and grow and we have to adapt and build resilience . . .’
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, pictured with Archie at Windsor Castle in May 2019, now have a second child, Lilibet Diana
NOT A RAY OF SUNSHINE
‘Every forest, every river, every ocean, every coastline, every insect, every wild animal. Every blade of grass, every ray of sun and every rain drop is crucial to our survival,’,’ says Harry making a speech at WE Day UK youth event in 2019.
‘It is all connected, we are all inter-connected. You in this room understand that and are already making this a safer, healthier and more resilient home for all of us and for generations to come. And for that I applaud you.’
Prince Harry also urges the kidz not to be swayed by social media or the mainstream media ‘distorting the truth.’ The mainstream media have something to say about that.
Is Prince Harry a Puppet? roars ITV’s Good Morning Britain. Meanwhile, queen of daytime TV Lorraine Kelly is understandably muddled. ‘I don’t know what he was talking about, it was gobbledygook,’ she says.
Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head
Uh oh. In December 2020, Prince Harry makes a speech to help launch an environmental documentary streaming platform called WaterBear. He wastes no time in calling for ‘affirmative action’ on climate change.
‘Don’t be a hypocrite like me and fly in private jets,’ is exactly what he does not say.
Instead, Harry waffles on about something called ‘sustainable nature-based economic stimulus packages that embrace a One Health approach . . .’. He also touches on ‘training a young generation of talented storytellers to create more inspiration and excitement around those values’.
Who are these budding bards generating thrills with their quills? Answer came there none. Instead it was on to the rain.
‘Every single raindrop that falls from the sky relieves the parched ground. What if every single one of us was a raindrop? And if every single one of us cared, which we do, because we have to care because at the end of the day nature is our life source.’
I’m still confused. Clarity, Harry! He gives it his best shot: ‘For me it’s about putting the dos behind the says, and that is something that WaterBear is going to be doing: capitalising on a community of doers. There’s a lot of people that say, but this is about action.’
How many people can I annoy today?
October 2020: In an interview to mark Black History Month: ‘The world that we know has been created by white people for white people. I’ve had an awakening as such of my own, because I wasn’t aware of so many of the issues and so many of the problems within the UK, but also globally as well. I thought I did but I didn’t.’
May 2021: Harry takes part in an Armchair Expert podcast with Dax Shepard: ‘I’ve got so much I want to say about the First Amendment as I sort of understand it, but it is bonkers. I don’t want to start going down the First Amendment route because that’s a huge subject and one which I don’t understand because I’ve only been here a short time. But, you can find a loophole in anything. You can capitalise or exploit what’s not said rather than uphold what is said.’
THE OPRAH INTERVIEW
In the infamous interview aired in March, Harry says: ‘I’ve spent many years doing the work and doing my own learning. But my upbringing in the system, of which I was brought up in and what I’ve been exposed to, it wasn’t — I wasn’t aware of it, to start with. But, my God, it doesn’t take very long to suddenly become aware of it.’
Author and Daily Mail writer Craig Brown has a theory that Harry confuses the word ‘compassion’, with ‘contempt’. For example, after telling Oprah his father stopped taking his calls and he and his elder brother were ‘on different paths’, and also having hinted that one or other of them might be racist, he says: ‘My father and my brother, they are trapped. They don’t get to leave. And I have huge compassion for that.’
Harking back to harry the LAD
2008: During his service with the British Army in Afghanistan: ‘No one really knows where I am and I prefer to keep it that way until I get back in one piece and can tell them where I was. At the moment, they think I’m tucked away, wrapped up in cotton wool.’
2010: Chatting with Prince William about England’s role in the World Cup: ‘A win would be fantastic, but I don’t think we should put a number on it. 1-0? A win’s a win. I’m more of a rugby fan but this seems to be a World Cup full of surprises. Let’s see what happens.’
2011: Before William and Kate’s wedding: ‘I’ve got to know Kate pretty well, but now that she’s becoming part of the family, I’m really looking forward to getting her under my wing — or she’ll be taking me under her wing, probably. She’s a fantastic girl. She really is.’
2013: During his military service in Afghanistan: ‘I’m one of the guys. I don’t get treated any differently.’
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE
2015: At a youth centre in Cape Town, South Africa: ‘I would like to have come to a place like this. When I was at school, I wanted to be the bad boy.’
2019: At a youth empowerment launch in London: ‘Be kind to each other. Be kind to yourselves. Have less screen time and more face-to-face time. Exceed expectations . . . Keep empathy alive. Change your thoughts and change the world . . . your role is to shine the light.’
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