Prince William and Harry have been lauded in many quarters for jettisoning the traditional British stiff upper lip and showing a human side. This week, the royals opened up on their grief and the mental turbulence that came with losing their mother but Daily Mail writer, Katie Hopkins is having none of it. In typical acerbic style, she has roundly scolded them for what she believes is behavior not becoming of royalty, she is of the opinion that we should all get along with life and its difficulties rather than cry about them. She even managed to squeeze in a barb aimed at Angelina Jolie and seemed to suggest Meghan Markle is unworthy of Prince Harry.
Here in Nigeria, we’ve witnessed a recent spate of suicide attempts, perhaps those people may not have taken such an extreme route if they had someone to open up to? Read her piece and share your thoughts.
I know the right answer. I know the one that ticks the boxes, makes everyone feel warm about the world and has most young people on their feet, applauding the devastating bravery of it all.
We should all talk more about our mental health.
Is there any chance Prince William and Prince Harry could just put a sock in it for a bit and quit bleating on about their struggle for sanity?
I get it. I really do. Before you start your banshee wailing that I don’t know what it’s like to live with depression, or I don’t know how hard it is just to get out of bed in the morning. Or what it is like to be a sufferer.
You are right. I don’t.
I am lucky. I can manage to be excited about life most of the time and even when I am not, I can pretend I am and wait for my miserable self to catch up.
If I moan, generally my kids will tell me to pull myself together.
But if I have to read one more story about Prince Harry being close to a mental breakdown and how brave Prince William is I might well need some anti-depressants myself, just to escape the monotony of it all.
And sure, you can try to make it interesting by bringing in Lady Gaga and her kitchen. Or any other major celebrity who has joined the compulsory list of famous faces with mental health issues.
The list of those with a mental health issue is now longer than those of us without. Bi-polar? All the rage. Post-natal depression? You betcha. Institutionalised? Who hasn’t been?
You can applaud their bravery and their honesty. You might even think it is nice to see the Royals are actual humans with failings. Just like the rest of us, sobbing watching Britain’s Got Talent or Broadchurch.
But I prefer my Royals cold. Ice cold. Like the Queen. Who despite becoming heir to throne unexpectedly when she was still a wee girl and watching her father die of cancer years before his time has somehow managed to reign for 75 stoic years without once needing to treat a newspaper interview like therapy session.
And whose stern demeanour is barely thawed by the sight of her grandchildren George and Charlotte – quite possibly the prettiest kids on the planet.
I like my Royals to be so brilliantly British they can’t talk about being pregnant (because it suggests they had sex), give birth sporting a full blow dry and tiara, and endure crippling pain with a minor grimace suggestive of passing wind.
I like them in a knee length skater-dress, a nude pump and a smile.
I don’t want them to emote. I want them aloof and positively hostile. I want Prince Charles – the Diana years. I want Prince Phillip, being hideously rude and telling his kids to pull themselves together. I want Princess Anne gutting road kill with her teeth so as not to waste.
Their motto of never complain, never explain is what kept them going all these years. Knowing that as dark and as desperate as things became – bombed, blitzed and rationed book to hell – they would still be there, cold, verging on autistic, regally inferring everything would be OK.
I preferred them this way.
But that mask is slipping. The hard-done-by ‘normal’ attitude of the soft royals is not enduring. It is frippery, it is of the moment.
But it will not maintain the monarchy as something untouchable, elusive, irresistibly ‘of the other’. It is not the magic that keeps an institution going for a thousand years. A master-class in unobtainable.
I don’t believe we really want the Royals to be normalised. Any more than we want to see balding Prince William dad-dancing with a bevy of sloney beauties halfway up a piste, p*ssed.
Nor do we need to have an all-out PR offensive on the inner workings of Harry’s tear ducts just to soften us up for the inevitable announcement of his engagement to the jobbing actress Miss Meghan Sparkly-Pants – who is positioning herself nicely to become the royal bleeding-heart-in-chief the moment the ring is on her finger.
I am as sad as the next woman about the death of Princess Diana. She was a dream Princess. And her ability to pull off a blue shirt and chino in a mine-field should not be underestimated. She was in a league of her own.
Angelina Jolie tried it. She just looked like a soft porn version of Lady Di.
The picture of those two little boys walking behind that hearse is one of the defining pictures of our generation. I can see it clearly when I close my eyes.
But we all have to embrace the tragedies of our lives. We have to put our arms around our sadness. Hold hands with it. Walk side by side with our grief.
I am not for one moment questioning the grief that those boys still carry. Or Harry’s PTSD or how they feel.
But if they wish to have privacy for their family, their children or their soon to be fiancée – or to criticise the press when they do intrude, then they would be better off not sharing their most private feelings with anyone who will listen.
There is a great deal to be said for having people you can be truly yourself with. People you can shout at, scream at, make your ugly crying face with and blow your nose in your own pyjamas.
My family provide this service for me unflinchingly as part of the package. And I do the same for them in return.
But in public, I prefer to hold it together. I prefer to keep something of the stiff upper lip. If people ask me how I am I say ‘I’m great, thank you’ no matter what. Because our days are somehow better that way.
As yet another celebrity is applauded for speaking out about their mental health struggles, I wish more people would decide to keep their emotions private for their family.
I am sick of them being vomited up all over the place in an endless competition to see who can be the most traumatised.
Prince Harry may well be just about to announce his engagement to Miss Markle. And why shouldn’t he. He is a young man entitled to his own life.
But please let’s stop competing over who can be the most broken and work out who can keep it together most effectively when the going gets tough. As it surely will. For all of us.
That’s how I want my Royals. Diving out of rescue helicopters, legging it about in camouflage gear, being stoic in times of lament, laying wreaths in impossibly tight dress uniforms. Comforting others.
Not weeping on Skype to Lady Gaga. Or showing us the sad little boy so we will forgive his choice of fiancée.
We are the land of Keep Calm and Carry On. Not Keep Crying and Tell Me All About It.