Jonny Dymond“In the end the contradictions and the conflicts of interest were too many and they just couldn’t sort it out.”

As heard on Today with Sean O'Rourke

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Fairytale royals try very hard to escape their dismal destiny, only to find that every step brings them closer to fulfilling whatever curse has been laid upon them. Time will tell if Britain’s Prince Harry will succumb to traps like those set for storybook princes and princesses, but royal watcher Jonny Dymond thinks the prince might be in for a tough time. The  BBC presenter and Royal Correspondent spoke to Seán O’Rourke following Harry’s speech on Sunday, his first since announcing that he and Meghan will be stepping back from royal duties.

Jonny Dymond explained that once Harry and Meghan are outside the royal circle, they will no longer have the protection of the royal media deal. This is an informal agreement between the Royal Family and the British press whereby royal photographs, film clips and stories are published more or less by consent of the palace. It gives some media outlets privileged access to royal content and it gives the royals a level of control over their own narrative:

“There’s a deal. We don’t shout questions at them. There’s a deal between the broadcasters, the newspaper journalists and the palace. Now that disappears when you leave the protection of the palace and the royal role.”

Ironically, the current agreement evolved in the years following the tragic death of Harry’s mother, Princess Diana.  Jonny Dymond thinks Harry’s efforts to save himself, Meghan and their son from press intrusion may backfire:

“They may well find themselves in the situation, I’m afraid to say, that his mother Princess Diana found herself in where she was chased, she was hounded, in particular by the international paparazzi, the snappers. And that could be a much more unhappy experience than the sort of mediated experience that they have with the press and broadcast media now.”

Reaching the agreement with the palace to release Harry and Meghan from royal duties was not an easy process, according to Dymond. He says it’s clear from Harry’s speech that he wanted to keep some royal functions:

“There are two big messages in the speech: One was that he wanted a royal role and he hasn’t got one. That was pretty obvious. In the early days of the negotiations both sides thought they could mix a private life with a royal role but in the end the contradictions and the conflicts of interest were too many and they just couldn’t sort it out. And the second one was essentially: ‘Lay off the wife’.”

Jonny Dymond says that Harry’s clear message to the British media was that his stepping back from his royal function was not Meghan’s “fault”, as some outlets had claimed:

“He said this was a decision he made. He kept on using the word ‘I’: ‘I take responsibility’, ‘I made this decision for my family’. Now obviously they came to it together, they made it together, but it was his decision, he says.”

While the fate of legal cases between the Sussexes (Harry and Meghan) and some media outlets is unclear, Jonny Dymond says the couple’s relationship with the press has not got any warmer,  opening up a space for history to repeat itself:

“He still hates the media. ‘A powerful force.’ He didn’t quite say why he hates them this time, but that one will run and run.”

Find out more about Jonny Dymond’s views on the trial that could involve Meghan’s father Thomas Markle plus more analysis of Harry’s recent speech and his chosen path beyond the Royal Family in the full interview with Seán O’Rourke here.

Ruth Kennedy

© The Listener 2020

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