Prince Harry Compares Life as a Royal to a Mix of 'The Truman Show and Being in a Zoo'
By Paige Gawley
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Prince Harry is opening up about royal life. On the latest episode of Dax Shepard's Armchair Expert podcast, the 36-year-old Duke of Sussex said that life as a member of the royal family was "a mix between The Truman Show," a 1998 film about a man who discovers that his whole life is a reality show, "and being in a zoo."
Harry revealed that he first thought about leaving his royal duties behind in his early 20s, after repeatedly being told to "grin and bear" his problems and "get on with it."
"I don't want this job, I don't want to be here. I don't want to be doing this. Look what it did to my mom," he recalled thinking at the time of his mother, Princess Diana's, 1997 death. "How am I ever going to settle down and have a wife and family, when I know that it's gonna happen again? Because I know. I've seen behind the curtain. I've seen the business model. I know how this operation runs and how it works. I don't want to be part of this."
"The biggest issue for me was that being born into it, you inherit the risk. You inherit the risk that comes with it, you inherit every element of it without choice," Harry added later in the episode. "I think it's a really dangerous place to be if you don't have a choice... Then people will, quite rightly, turn around and go, 'So what if you didn't have a choice? It was privilege!'"
It was only after his now-wife, Meghan Markle, encouraged him to go to therapy that he addressed his long-held feelings.
"She saw it. She saw it straight away. She could tell that I was hurting and that some of the stuff that was out of my control was making me really angry. It would make my blood boil," he said. "Prior to meeting Meghan, it was very much a case of -- certainly connected to the media -- that anger and frustration of, 'This is so unjust.' Not just about me, but about all the stuff I was seeing."
Harry said that "helplessness" is his "biggest sort of Achilles heel," largely due to three moments in his life.
"The three major times I felt completely helpless: one, when I was a kid in the back of the car with mom being chased by paparazzi; two was in Afghanistan in an Apache helicopter; and then the third one was with my wife," he said. "Those are the moments in my life where, yeah, feeling helpless hurts. It really hurts."
"That's when you think to yourself, 'S**t. I've got the privilege. I've got the platform. I've got the influence, and even I can't fix this. I can't change this,'" Harry continued. "When you start getting in your head about it, that's when it starts taking a toll."
When he went to therapy on Meghan's advice, Harry said, "suddenly it was like the bubble was burst."
"I plucked my head out of the sand and gave it a good shake off," he said. "I was like, 'OK. You're in this position of privilege, stop complaining or stop thinking as though you want something different. Make this different, because you can't get out. How are you going to do this differently? How are you going to make your mom proud? How are you going to use this platform to really affect change and be able to give people that confidence to be able to change their own lives?"
Despite Harry's best efforts, he and Meghan announced their plan to step down as senior members of the royal family in January 2020. Their exit was confirmed in February after a year-long trial period, which saw them make the move to California and start their own foundation, Archewell.
The couple, who share a 2-year-old son, Archie, announced in February that they're expecting their second child, a girl, this year.
"The good thing is the course is being altered now," he said. "Living here now, I can actually lift my head and I feel different. My shoulders have dropped, so has [Meghan's]. You can walk around feeling a little bit more free. I get to take Archie on the back of my bicycle... I never had the chance to do that."