Interestingly very few are saying he got the facts wrong. Just that he told too many true facts to survive in a family.
But Harry's contention is that there is a constant duplicitousness in the family he grew up in. He was always taught: never comment on a story, never react. While at the same time telling your Public Relations officer to plant a story that so and so was deeply hurt by such and such that Harry did, and “no comment from the royal family.”
Harry's contention, that the royal family needs the press to survive, and the press needs the royal family to sell newspapers (and thus survive), is one I hadn't considered. This idea is coming from a man who lost his mother at age 12 to a paparazzi chase. He has clearly thought long and hard about his relationship with the press.
He is also someone who tried to stay out of the press, and avoid pictures and publicity, up until he met the very successful American TV actress Meghan Markle. At which point he became terrified he would lose yet another girlfriend to the paparazzi.
The press fell in love with Meghan Markle, her column inches pushed aside all other royals. And so old wounds and family jealousies were opened wide.
Harry, who grew up in the family that survives on the column inches in the press, could see clearly that his closest relatives were feeding a torrent of nasty stories about Meghan to the press. Harry took his wife and child and escaped as best he could.
But the royal family miscalculated. The Scapegoat no longer has to play by the rules. The royal family thought they could sacrifice and silence the rock star member, and then they could finally go on with their royal lives in peace, forgetting that the scapegoat is now free to give interviews and tell the truth over and over again.
The triangle, of jealous royal family members, press, and Harry, is one that is familiar to anyone who grew up in a crushingly dysfunctional family. It is the old Shame Triangle described by Stephen Karpman: If you want to shame someone tell the nasty story through someone else. Don’t tell it face to face in an honest way, with the person you are upset at, instead tell it underhanded and roundabout, in a deniable form, so the Victim feels the most shame.
Everyone is lamenting how terrible it is that Harry is telling the truth to the world, instead of to his family face to face. Except nobody is lamenting how underhanded, dishonest and downright nasty his own brother and father have been in feeding ugly stories to the press they can deny later, even insisting that Harry submit his royal negotiations and Meghan’s letter to her father, to them in writing, that mysteriously were leaked immediately to the press.
This hits home for me, having been kicked out of a family myself. My father is a big fish in a very small pond. He is a fundamentalist Christian missionary in Johannesburg, South Africa for a very small American sect that believes they are the only sect that is saved and going to heaven. In my twenties when I began questioning the doctrines of the sect, my father used the power of the religious journals in the sect to confront me, debate me, and to expel me. It hurt like hell.
Would anyone fault me for telling the truth? Would anyone fault me for putting up a webpage to help fellow ex-members of the sect to survive being kicked out?
I did write my father a five page letter, which I somewhat regret. I wish I had written a letter focusing on just one issue, rather than a whole potato sack full of issues. But actually I had already done that to no avail. And my father, to his credit, did make an effort to do some of what I requested of him in that five page letter.
I still haven’t recovered from being raised in a sect, I cannot join a church of any kind, and make it work for me, because I still have too many unhealed triggers. I enjoy my life now, I love my wife and children, and I have several close friends that I deeply value. I love the career I have chosen. But my family of origin? Still difficult.
My children eventually decided not to have anything to do with my parents, to their bewilderment, but not much of a surprise to me.
People are wailing about how Harry won’t be able to repair his relationship with his brother and father. But what is there to repair? How much was there to begin with?
As good a queen as she was, she didn’t know how to raise children. Would you want King Charles as your father, sitting in a meeting listening to him tell lies to your grandmother, the queen? King Charles and Prince William have taken care of themselves, and been furious with Harry when he didn’t go along. When Harry asked for their help, they refused. Not much family there, and there never was.
And what has Harry said that is so unforgivable? His brother loses his temper and shoves Harry around. His father is willing to tell lies to preserve his version of reality. His father is cold and distant. They are jealous. Are those secrets so terrible that Prince William and King Charles can’t recover from their exposure?
The only way to survive as the Scapegoat in a family is to enjoy the role, according to Murray Bowen, Family Systems theorist. Enjoy the freedom of being the Scapegoat, enjoy telling the truth, enjoy being more open and more flexible, and enjoy being more accepting of the world.
The Scapegoat is in a double-bind, you lose if you tell the truth, you lose if you don’t tell the truth. So you might as well do what you feel is right: tell the truth. Go Harry!