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Opinion: New birthday photo of Prince George proves Prince Harry wrong

An adorable new photo of Prince George has been released, questioning some of Prince Harry’s inflammatory comments. Photo / Getty Images

OPINION:

You might think that when two future kings, one future queen and one additional prince and one princess go on vacation, we are talking about the pinnacle of luxury. Say luxurious private jets, long stretches of white sand in balmy locations, and liveried footmen who stand stiff and ankle-deep in the sand while the mischievous heir to the throne buries his sister up to his neck.

But those damn Cambridges – who always destroy a girl’s imaginative daydreams.

On Friday, like clockwork, William and Kate, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, released a new photo of their eldest son and future Scepter owner Prince George to celebrate his ninth birthday. The image shows the child, grinning wildly, dressed in a sort of blue polo shirt that parents around the world spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning up peanut butter stains and was taken while they were on holiday somewhere in the UK recently and it’s boasting , cough, a beautiful long, windy and gray beach.

Yet even without a pina colada or gold-rimmed bucket and spade in sight, the shot gives us a tantalizing glimpse into the Cambridges’ most private personal life, a life that runs counter to one of the most important tales George’s Uncle Prince, Harry, has from his hideout peddled out in California.

Prince George can be seen in a portrait taken by his mother, the Duchess of Cambridge, while on holiday in the UK earlier this month.  Photo / Kensington Palace
Prince George can be seen in a portrait taken by his mother, the Duchess of Cambridge, while on holiday in the UK earlier this month. Photo / Kensington Palace

Looking at the picture of George, what strikes me most about this new photo is the sheer, unadulterated and natural joy on the boy’s face. His mother might have forced him to pose, though he’d rather have read Harry Potter or played Minecraft or learned about the divine right of kings, but whatever. The kid looks incredibly happy.

The same goes for the new pictures we received earlier this year for his sister Princess Charlotte’s birthday in May, showing her smiling happily in a field of flowers, and the ones we received from Prince Louis in April for his fourth birthday. Another beach with a cricket ball as a prop and the youngest child, in one picture, beaming positively.

Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis in their birthday portraits.  Photo / Kensington Palace
Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis in their birthday portraits. Photo / Kensington Palace

While these are obviously fleeting moments captured by an adoring mother, kids just aren’t good at faking it.

But all that happiness, that natural comfort with himself and his life, contrasts with one of the harshest criticisms Harry has hurled at Buckingham Palace – that growing up in the confines of royal family means essentially suffering.

During Ms Meghan, Duchess of Sussex’s devastating interview with Oprah Winfrey last year, he grimly told the talk show legend he was “caught in the system, like the rest of my family.”

Not only that: “My father and my brother are trapped. You are not allowed to go. And for that I have great sympathy.” (Patronize a lot?)

Prince Harry claims life in the royal family has been miserable.  Photo / Getty Images
Prince Harry claims life in the royal family has been miserable. Photo / Getty Images

Harry doubled down on painting royal life as miserable when he appeared on Dax Shepherd’s podcast in May last year, and spoke about the “pain and suffering” of his upbringing, saying it was like “a cross between The Truman Show.” and being ‘been in a zoo’.

The king seemed on course for success because when his mental health TV series The Me You Can’t See debuted a month later, he accused his family of “complete neglect”.

“I felt completely helpless,” said the royal. “I thought my family would help.

That’s where I make it clear, yes, I absolutely believe Harry had a really bad time as a kid and young adult. He deserves compassion and understanding and hopefully has found the love and security he sorely missed.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, with her son, Prince George, playing tennis on July 10.  Photo/Getty Images
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, with her son, Prince George, playing tennis on July 10. Photo/Getty Images

But his experiences do not mean that those left behind who have retired to palace life now face the same fate.

What Harry has never differentiated is how much of his unhappy younger years can be blamed on the institution and how much is actually due to the two screwed up people who raised him?

Harry’s parents’ marriage was in a state of permanent dissolution almost from birth, and they were embroiled in a tabloid war of attrition. From what we know today, Harry (and William) were not children who ever truly experienced happy, peaceful family life. Then, of course, came the shocking death of Diana, Princess of Wales while on the cusp of adulthood, and two decades of agony.

Prince Harry has left emotional scars from his childhood.  Photo / Getty Images
Prince Harry has left emotional scars from his childhood. Photo / Getty Images

However, what this new shot of George really does is that the version of the royal family that Harry has repeatedly talked about, one that was inherently dysfunctional and in which his emotional and psychological needs were never, never met,… . is away.

In recent years we’ve seen the Cambridge family have lunch in a pub, George and Charlotte shopped with Kate at a Smiggle store and the Duchess gave her three children packed lunches to eat on the lawn at the Polo, no Quail egg or gooseberry insight.

More recently we’ve also observed William, Kate and their children at various anniversary events and the parents with their eldest son at Wimbledon just this month.

What strikes you on every occasion is how normal, warm and loving they all are. BBC footage of the Duke greeting his son at the tennis championship showed William happily reaching down to hug and kiss his son.

This kind of tactile, open and caring approach is a whole new way of raising little HRHs.

Diana may have insisted on giving her sons a “normal” upbringing, but her idea of ​​normalcy wasn’t exactly what you or I might discern. Raised in one of Britain’s oldest aristocratic families, in one of the largest private houses, her childhood was an emotional wasteland of isolation and utter indifference. Her parents’ divorce resulted in her maternal grandmother cruelly testifying during the custody proceedings against her mother, Frances Shand-Kydd, to ensure she lost access to their four children.

The Cambridge family during the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations.  Photo / Getty Images
The Cambridge family during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Photo / Getty Images

Speaking of her childhood in 2020, her brother Earl Spencer told the Times: “Diana used to wait on the doorstep [our mother], but she never came. She could hear me crying in the hallway but was too scared of the dark to come to me.”

Charles didn’t fare much better. As a toddler, he and his sister Princess Anne had been left with nannies and their grandparents for months when their parents went abroad.

When Diana first met the Prince of Wales when she was only 16, her first reaction upon seeing him was, “God, what a sad man!” as she later said to Andrew Morton. As an adult, Charles spoke to biographer Jonathan Dimbleby and said he essentially felt neglected and abandoned by his own parents.

And in that morass William and Harry were born, two parents with their own murky childhoods, trapped in a murky marriage. Is it any wonder that the boys themselves had such an unhappy childhood?

But this is where things happily go off course, as perhaps the greatest thing the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have achieved is creating a truly loving, stable and warm home for their children.

What this week’s new George photo really underscores is that the image of royalty Harry was telling the world about, one characterized by a horrifying brand of oppression and suppression of feelings, is long gone.

Let me reiterate that I am not neglecting Harry’s experience – the poor man has truly been in pain for decades.

However, the royal family as a mercenary institution hell-bent on surviving no matter what tender souls they crush in their path just doesn’t ring true anymore.

Just last month, at a roundtable with two government ministers, where Kate presented research from her Center for Early Childhood, the Duchess called for children to be taught “how to manage their emotions and feelings at a young age”.

All of this means it looks a lot like the Duke and Duchess are raising their children first as people and then as members of the royal family.

This week, the Queen traveled north to Scotland to start her summer holiday in Balmoral and the Cambridges will eventually trundle to join her too. While growing up as a member of the royal family these days can mean hugs and feelings and lots of love, there are some things that have never changed and never will. I hope you enjoy fly-fishing in sparkling rivers and long, long walks on the mosquito-infested moors George: you’ve got decades of this ahead of you.

• Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with over 15 years’ experience working with a range of leading Australian media outlets.

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