All in all, Prince Harry’s opening speech on July 18 at the United Nations to celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day was a decent strike, both for the prince, for the Mandela Foundation which invited him and for the UN. The prince took great pains to outline the details of the great man’s monumental 27-year incarceration, generously quoting Mandela, with, as always, a nod to the prince’s mother, Diana, whose acquaintance with Mandela was sincere. Harry mentioned the photo of Diana and Mandela together, laughing, at ease in each other’s presence during a meeting in 1997, a photo given to Harry by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, which Harry has said to have “on my wall and in my heart”. Even though Harry remained focused on the subject of the man, the message was that his mother was always with him, and with us.
The prince listed many of the current crises facing Africa, from the historic drought in the Horn of Africa to the work of his own charity supporting children orphaned by HIV in Lesotho and Botswana, Sentebale. He kept the big issues in mind, the most important of which was Mandela’s global reach and relentless activism. This was Harry at his best, straight arrow, heart on his sleeve, telling us what he was thinking.
He concluded with these words: “Let us seek what we have in common, let us empower all to claim our democracies and harness the light of Mandela’s memory to illuminate the way forward. Unapologetically idealistic, with a large dollop of that extreme ease of connecting to everyone, you’d almost think Harry Mandela’s International Day speech was a bit of old Harry, before his abrupt and publicly bitter departure from 2019- 2020. British monarchy and his family. In a weird way, the speech kind of served as proof that that other, quirky, charming Harry – the one who can effortlessly merge the personal and the political – somehow still exists.
Except. While we can say that every man now has overhead, Prince Harry has overhead, including his wife and family now that he is no longer a member of the royal family. Meghan Markle may have some cash stashed away from her years in Canada as a TV actress and lifestyle blogger, and hopefully she will. But, either way, that amount won’t even bear the freight of her sizable carbon footprint, like the private jets she’s taken to and from the Queen’s Jubilee in June, or even the prodigious staff shelling the “content” for Archewell’s entertainment and media weapons. On the surface, at least, there’s no money-making content from Archewell’s for-profit content arms. Facing intense problems of its own, Netflix, after going deep into the Windsors of Montecito business with a $100million report, has just canceled Ms Markle’s show pearlan animated film that was nearing production.
Harry seems to realize that he needs to go out and earn ducats. That’s why when they arrived in California and Hollywood in 2020 and 2021, Harry and his wife landed a veritable blizzard of deals, including with Netflix and Spotify, but also with corporate mental health startup BetterUp. and towards his the inevitable autobiography told to autobiography.
The most imminent lucrative projects in the pipeline are inextricably the products of this new rain-making Harry. The first is his autobiography told with The tender bar author JR Mohringer, a book that has now been rescheduled to become a staple in fall book lists. The second, which will debut at an undetermined point when Netflix feels it has enough storytelling in the box, is Harry and Meghan’s ongoing documentary/reality show behind the scenes as they manage their many charitable endeavors. global and commercial projects under the Archewell umbrella. Of the two projects, the book will undoubtedly be the most explosive and, for Harry in any case, the most successful.
But the last time we visited some of the deals made and generated by the leaders of the fledgling foundation/engine of political engagement/entertainment production house/self-improvement entity/lifestyle empire, there were the content problem. In practical terms, this means that there is a large creme de la creme superstructure of Hollywood and Silicon Valley talent in Archewell’s divisions. But apart from the ongoing production work on the documentary Soul of Invictus – a deep-dive documentary, starring Harry, into the 2020 Invictus Games – and aside from continuing work on Netflix and the couple’s personal documentary/reality show, and mental health documentary series with Oprah “The Me You Can’t See”, there were no products. The couple have a lot riding on this autobiography and the Netflix documentary of their lives, in other words.
Part of the problem is that it’s simply difficult to produce impactful content in any medium, and that difficulty is compounded when it’s as difficult as figuring out what the production entity, Archewell, actually is. supposed to do. This is a non-profit, yet somewhat commercial media/charity venture. But the last time we visited some of the deals made and generated by the leaders of the fledgling foundation/engine of political engagement/entertainment production house/self-improvement entity/lifestyle empire, there were the content problem. And this problem has not gone away.
The second complication is that the couple are, admirably, deeply politically engaged in a wide range of causes, some of which, like Sentebale, Harry’s Lesotho and the Botswana HIV Orphans Charity, or Invictus, are well established. But these efforts and many others take time and pay off. Therefore: They seem rushed and spread quite thinly. It was on their way to The Hague Invictus ceremony and games that they dropped at Windsor to reconnect with the Queen.
This picture is not mitigated – in fact, it is only intensified – by the long-running tensions between the Montecito Windsors and the Windsors of Windsor. These tensions came to a head with the March 2020 accusations of racism made by the couple to Harry’s family in the CBS interview with Oprah Winfrey. This brings us back to Harry’s next book, which is due out in a few short and blustery back-to-school weeks. For its part, the royal family would fear the publication.