Colin Brazier: Prince Harry is flying too high, he’s hooked on the oxygen of publicity
To make an impact, the Duke of Sussex's bombshells have to get bigger and more explosive.
What a man. What a life story.
Those feats of gallantry. Flying-high. Dodging enemy fire.
Putting his body on the line for the British war effort. And, then because heroes never stop thinking of others, the years of tireless charity work. Experiences, we can all agree, which are well worth reading about.
We’re not talking about the biography of 36-year-old former Apache pilot Prince Harry, but the obituary – in the newspapers today – of 100-year-old Benny Goodman.
And what an antidote Squadron Leader Goodman’s story is to the self-promotion, Windsor-bashing and muck-raking of Captain Wales, whose memoirs Goodman put his life repeatedly on the line for the King. The Duke of Sussex won’t put a sock in his mouth for the Queen.
Goodman hit targets all over Germany for the legendary Dambusters.
The Duke is getting ready to release truth-bombs from his base in California.
Goodman, a life-long opponent of anti-semitism, tried to kill Hitler in an air-raid against his Bavarian ‘Eagle’s Nest’.
Harry, who once dressed as a Nazi at a fancy dress party, caused his own firestorm by making unverifiable accusations of royal racism.
Goodman’s Lancaster carried the biggest bomb ever flown by the RAF, destroying the Arnsberg Viaduct with one.
Harry, having revived hopes for a royal reconciliation when he and his brother unveiled a statue to their late mother, now seems determined to blow-up any remaining bridges with his family.
Goodman kept a stiff upper lip.
Harry’s embraced psychobabble.
Goodman was a private man.
The Duke demands privacy…. and then agrees to collaborate with what his publisher is calling “an intimate and heartfelt” memoir.
Goodman joined Bomber Command in the first month of World War Two. Fifty-five thousand of his comrades died over occupied Europe. Their chances of survival were about 50/50.
Harry, by contrast, increasingly lives or dies by a different set of numbers. The hundred million viewers worldwide for the 90-minute-long Oprah interview. And now a reported $20 million advance for his autobiography.
But the Duke of Sussex has a problem, and it’s one Benny Goodman would understand.
Harry is flying too high. He’s hooked on the oxygen of publicity. To make an impact, his bomb-shells have to get bigger and more explosive.
Eventually there’ll be no disclosures left. The bomb-racks will be empty. The culture war that Harry and Meghan have signed up to fight will have moved on to battles anew.
And then what?
Well, we can hazard a guess.
Look back at the life of another Duke who broke with the monarchy and chose to live in exile.
A King’s Story: The Memoirs of the Duke of Windsor was published in 1951, and like Harry’s autobiography, was ghost-written.
It tells the story of Edward the Eighth’s abdication to marry the American heiress Wallis Simpson.
That was the biggest crisis faced by the monarchy in the 20th century.
It’s hard not to see the parallels with another Duke, another American and another royal crisis.
For the record, Edward spent his final years abroad embittered and ignored.