Today Prince Harry guest edited BBC 4’s Today programming, including headline-grabbing interviews with President Barack Obama and his father, the Prince of Wales. We’re going to focus this post on these two segments, but there were other compelling spots on conservation efforts in Africa, as well as issues concerning the armed forces and mental health, for those that are interested.
Starting with Obama, the interview was recorded this past September when both men were in Toronto for the Invictus Games. Obama’s presence there, alongside former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, was notable in that it well-displayed his clear friendship with Harry and a solid camaraderie. It was evident again in late October when Harry traveled to Chicago to speak at the inaugural summit of the Obama Foundation, and we have seen hints of it before, such as when Obama met with Harry at Kensington Palace this past spring, or when the two met in London and Washington, D.C. during Obama’s tenure in the White House.
What we have never really seen – or rather, heard – until today was the actual dynamic between two when they converse. The nearly 40-minute long interview that aired was compelling, spanning subjects from Obama’s life and focus now that he’s left office to topics that mutually interest both men, such as how to engage youth and the impact of social media. It was hard not to think when listening to Obama talk about how he and his wife handled their public roles and their marriage that it wasn’t excellent advice for Harry just a few weeks out from his own engagement.
As an interviewer, I thought Harry did an excellent job of making it seem conversational and I think a clear highlight has to be the lightning round at the end in which Obama was asked questions like “boxers or briefs,” “Queen or the Queen” and “William or Harry.” The answer to the last, according to the Obama, was “William, right now.”
The discussion of social media has obviously garnered some headlines and has been read as a subtle jab at the current U.S. president. I didn’t necessarily hear it that way, though certainly there were a handful of moments where Trump did feel a bit like the elephant in the room. But the interview has brought up the question as to whether Obama will be invited to Harry and Meghan’s wedding this May – and whether that will be in addition to Trump and his wife, Melania, or if not, whether that will be a clear snub.
So, let’s break that down a bit. Will the Obamas be invited in May? My guess is yes because of a clear friendship that is both personal and professional. Will the Trumps be invited? Probably not because the wedding is not a massive state event and there is no reason for them to be. When the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge married in 2011 the Obamas weren’t invited for the same reason, and there was no personal relationship at that point to be a considering factor.
So, is this a snub? No, not by the letter of the law, if you will. The spirit of the matter, however, is a bit different because of the hostility between Trump and Obama, most of which has been perpetuated by the former as of recently, but that’s not Harry’s problem. We also can’t ignore that Trump was meant to make a state visit to the UK per an invitation from Prime Minister Teresa May that garnered a huge petition of protest from the British public and prompted a Parliamentary debate on whether or not he should be allowed to meet the Queen. Because of the public outburst the trip was delayed and it’s hard to imagine it being put back on the schedule anytime soon. Is that an insult to Trump? Well, yeah, but that’s between the governments.
But taking again to consideration the RF, it would be wildly inappropriate in light of that response for them to be invited to Harry and Meghan’s wedding. Nor can we forget that Trump has made horribly offensive and inappropriate remarks about both Harry’s mother and his sister-in-law. I can’t imagine him personally wanting the man at his wedding – nor can I imagine the Prince of Wales or William taking kindly to his presence, not to mention Kate herself.
Moving on to the interview with Charles, this was a much smaller segment and focused on environmental issues, a cause close to his heart. There was discussion of the benefits of a circular economy in lieu of a linear economy, a concept Charles has championed for years, long before it was trendy. It was sweet, too, especially after so much debate over the summer about how close Charles’s sons were with him that Harry referenced that they do have these discussions in their private time – talking for “hours and hours.” Not to mention the normal parent-child banter in which the former expresses astonishment that the latter has actually been listening over the years(!)
“My darling boy, it makes me very proud to think that you understand,” Charles said at one point, while Harry admitted to picking his father’s brain more and more.
Finally, in a separate spot, there was brief discussion of this year’s Christmas festivities which of course included Meghan. Harry said the holiday was fantastic, the family loved having her there and he confirmed that the couple stayed at Anmer Hall and enjoyed “running around with the kids.” When asked, he noted that yes, he had had to explain various traditions to Meghan (well, duh), but mainly because it’s such a large family and perhaps “it’s the family she’s never had. The last bit is interesting, but given some of the dysfunction evidenced in the tabloids with the Markle family over the past year – most of which I refuse to cover here – perhaps for the first time in history the Windsors are the steadier options.
Anywho, there’s a historical post scheduled for Friday and we’ll do a few end of the year wrap ups as final engagement numbers come in, etc. See you then and Happy New Year!