Harry’s trademark cheeky grin was nowhere to be seen in Morocco this week. Picture: Yui Mok/Pool Photo via AP
Harry’s trademark cheeky grin was nowhere to be seen in Morocco this week. Picture: Yui Mok/Pool Photo via AP

Meghan’s ‘war’ breaking Harry’s heart

HAS anyone else noticed there is something really troubling about Prince Harry of late?

Take a look at pictures taken during his last few public outings and you will see it.

He seems to have, largely, stopped smiling.

Sure, there are stiff grins and polite warm expressions, but gone is his beaming smile and his signature cheeky joy when out and about.

Sure, it could be because, by all reports, he has given up booze and even coffee in support of his wife Meghan during her pregnancy. The poor lad is probably starting his day with apple cider vinegar shots, green juices and a whopping caffeine-withdrawal headache. (Let's not even get into how long those cold winter nights at Balmoral must be without a whisky or seven to cheer you up while Prince Philip recounts his favourite nautical manoeuvres and racial innuendos.)

But the bigger picture is that Harry is going through a tumultuous, trying situation right now that must remind him terribly of a truly awful time in his life.

I'm talking about when he and brother Wills were the major casualties of War of the Wales.

For years in the '90s, his parents both waged guerrilla warfare, using skirmish attacks via pliant media sources to try and control the story as their marriage crumbled and they set up duelling royal courts.

The poor brothers, with Harry only primary-school aged, were caught between two people who used to love each other as they lobbed salvos across the press parapets to try and damage the other and portray themselves as the true victim.

For years, Diana used a trusted coterie of friends to leak stories and information to the press, painting herself as a martyr who had suffered greatly at the hands of the bloodless royal cabal.

Charles, though far less adroitly, gave interviews and leaked titbits about Diana to try and win the war for maximum public sympathy.

As the royal couple's feud played out on front pages, poor Wills and Harry were casualties of their hurt and anger.

Is any of this sounding familiar?

These days, Harry might be happily married with a no-doubt wonderfully photogenic baby on the way (not to mention a shiny multimillion-dollar house that is being schmicked up for his family), but he has somehow found himself back in some really painful territory.

Similarly, ever since the first days when it was rumoured that Harry was dating that girl from Suits, People has enjoyed a number of exclusive quotes and insider titbits from a coterie of unnamed friends. I think we can take it as a given these morsels of insider info have been dished out with Meghan's approval.

Her war with her father Thomas, waged on the pages of her favourite trusted tabloid, and his volley of hurtful rebuttals dealt out via TMZ and a swath of TV interviews, are a heartbreaking case of history repeating itself for the Ginger Charmer.

For the second time in his life, a woman he loves is using the press to push her narrative and to paint herself as the true victim. On the other side is a man she once loved who continues to portray her in a very negative light to the baying, voracious press.

Both Harry's wife and mother have so much that is truly good in common - they are driven by humanitarian ideals and have a genuine warmth when it comes to spending time with the great unwashed masses.

Unfortunately, they are both adept media operators who have assiduously used the press to control the narrative and try and bolster their public image.

And for Harry that means that again he is stuck between two warring parties who are doing everything to control their public image and trampling over the monarchy in the process.

Given all he is contending with at the moment, and the terrible memories this will all be bringing back, I think he deserves a strong coffee and a big whisky chaser right about now.

- Daniela Elser is a freelance royal writer for news.com.au. Continue the conversation @DanielaElser

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