It isn't just those who marry into the royal family who have to give up any pursuits that might be considered off brand.

The royals themselves, while they usually get to spend their formative years exercising a modicum of freedom (also dependent on their spot in line to the actual throne), are ultimately expected to whittle their interests and occupations in a certain way to suit the monarchy.

Because of Queen Elizabeth II's record-long reign and the assumption that Prince Charles will become king when the time comes, Prince William and Prince Harry have been afforded more time than some of their predecessors to refrain from becoming so-called "fulltime royals."

But earlier this year William accepted the spare set of keys to the castle, and later this summer he'll end his run as an air ambulance helicopter pilot and devote himself primarily to his patronages, philanthropy and whatever else he's called upon to do as a member of Britain's royal family.

A tad reluctantly, apparently.

Prince Harry

David Moir - Pool/Getty Images

"We're involved in modernizing the British monarchy," Prince Harry explained their raison d'être in a recent interview with Newsweek. "We are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of the people. Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don't think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time."

What fodder that must have been for their local critics, the very ones who used William missing one church service while on a ski trip as proof he didn't take his duties seriously and another example of why the monarchy should be dismantled.

There's a big gap, however, between being wistful about giving up one thing for another and indifference.

And with their generation representing the future of the system, William and Harry (who's behind his nephew Prince George and niece Princess Charlotte in line for the throne) will have the opportunity to make the lifestyle somewhat more in tune with how they'd prefer to live.

Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Harry

Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

"Thank goodness I'm not completely cut off from reality," Harry continued. "People would be amazed by the ordinary life William and I live." He said, "I do my own shopping...But I am determined to have a relatively normal life, and if I am lucky enough to have children, they can have one too. Even if I was king, I would do my own shopping."

Kate Middleton hasn't yet said if she'll still do her own shopping when she becomes queen, as is the plan so long as William becomes king one day, but all evidence points to her continuing on with picking out her own jeans from Zara and running out for groceries.

Still, saying no one really wanted to be king was a pretty loaded statement from Harry, though one seemingly meant to reiterate that the times they are a-changing. And they may be a-changing for Harry in more ways than one.

The 32-year-old royal has been dating actress Meghan Markle for about a year now, and what with them both being of marrying age and all…

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Jamaica


Bettors would lay odds that an engagement is imminent, though it's anyone's guess as to how much time could pass between a proposal and the official announcement. William and Kate, for instance, were engaged for about a month before the palace shared the news. And seventy years ago, the queen and Prince Philip were engaged for a year before it was announced, because King George VI wanted to wait until his daughter was 21.

Roughly seven-year courtships, the both, however. Meghan and Harry have only been dating a very short while in comparison, so the world could be getting ahead of itself.

Regardless, Harry has seemingly been very much invested lately in letting the world get to know him more, perhaps before the end of his bachelor days and the start of his full-time royalty, which—no matter how normal one aspires to be—ideally requires a commitment to a certain style of public behavior.

Not that Harry would necessarily need to be a full-timer. His uncle Prince Andrew, at one time second in line to the throne before Prince Charles had children and now sixth in the order, is also a so-called spare heir and he served in the Royal Navy till he was 41. When Harry was stationed in Afghanistan with the British Army he was the first royal to see combat since Andrew, who served in the Falklands War.

So even though Markle has already shut down her lifestyle site The Tig, is rumored to be wrapping up her run on Suits, hasn't posted to Instagram in months and is not engaging in any behavior remotely resembling a Hollywood star who just grew exponentially more famous over the course of a year, Harry—who left the army in 2015—could find himself a day job.

Trooping the Colour 2017, Prince Harry, Kate Middleton

Albert Nieboer/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

But despite his boldly candid statement about the kingship, Harry is incredibly devoted to his family, and there's no better way than being one of the most powerful people in the U.K. for him to draw attention to and help the causes important to him, such as veterans' services and mental health care. Which also serves his other purpose, which is to live up to the example set for him and William by their mother, Princess Diana, who used her celebrity to blaze a humanitarian-activist trail in her wake. He met Meghan while promoting the Invictus Games in Toronto, and her philanthropic streak will fit right in.

"It's a tricky balancing act," he admitted to Newsweek of his desire to lead an "ordinary life" and his sense of duty. "We don't want to dilute the magic."

The relative flood of personal information we've been getting from Harry lately, including about the anxiety and anger issues he let fester for years after Diana's death until eventually seeking counseling, seems to be an example of Harry and William modernizing the monarchy in action. Along with Kate (though we're still waiting for her in-depth interview—insert prayer-hand emoji), they've become far more human, in real time, than any prior generation.

And luckily there's no imminent danger of diluting the magic, what with the tiaras and jewels and pomp of it all. This royal family is still the closest thing the real world has to Disney princesses and the romantic lore of Camelot.

If Sir Lancelot had done his own shopping.

  • Share
  • Tweet

We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies. For more information on cookies including how to manage your consent visit our Cookie Policy.