Nothing to be guilty of

by Rick Johansen

One of the pitfalls of writing a blog is making every story in the media about yourself. Famous person suffers from depression? Me, me, me too. Food poverty on the rise? We were poor, too, so I get it. I VOLUNTEER IN A FOOD BANK. It’s certainly a key part of my own writing. And I do think there is a line, fine or not, between turning a story about someone else into a story about you and expressing empathy, as well as pointing out how the lives of the rich and famous are very different from those of us who aren’t rich and famous.

Take Prince Harry. In the eyes of the red tops AKA the gutter press, he can do no right. He will never be forgiven for – and let’s be honest about this – marrying a black woman and not wishing to live the antiseptically clean life of a major royal. It was Harry and his wife Meghan who caused the death of the Queen before her time – she was only 96, for goodness sake – forced Kate Middleton to have abdominal surgery and gave King Charles cancer. Now he is being criticised for his actions in coming to visit his stricken father. Here is where I make it all about me.

Fair play to Harry in flying across the pond to see his old man when he found the old boy had cancer. When my own dad was seriously ill back in 2011, that wasn’t an option for me. I had a full-time job to hold down and I didn’t have the financial wherewithal to fly to Canada at the drop of a hat to see how he was getting on. If I flew over for a few days, what if he got worse when I was over there? Did I hang around until he got better or even worse and how long might that last? In the end, I only got over to Canada after he died. Do I have regrets about that? Of course I do. Guilt? Most definitely. Should I have chucked the cost of flights onto a credit card and worried about repayments at a later date?

Harry didn’t have that issue. He’s loaded financially and he can fly anywhere he wants to any old time. He flew across to see his dad and then flew home again to resume his version of normal life. I can’t think of anything he got wrong, although the gutter press will never agree.

Now we’re in the aftermath of Harry’s trip to see his dad. Even The Guardian ran the tabloid bollocks about whether Harry’s visit to the UK would see the supposed rift between him and Prince William healed, or some such nonsense. Do we, the Great British Public even know for sure whether this is true and even if it is, so what? Call me naive but I understood Harry had come to visit his old man who has cancer, not as part of some working visit whereby Charles was a mere afterthought.

I’ve fallen for the oldest royal trick in the book, by writing about it in the first place. Any publicity is good publicity for them. It’s only because of our obsession with the royal family that makes this news at all. Yet I do feel a grain of empathy for the younger sibling because he did what he felt was right and just because he’s stinking rich doesn’t make it somehow a bad thing.

If I’d had a small percentage of his dosh, I’d have done the same visiting my dad, but I wasn’t born a royal with unlimited financial resources. And maybe my 13 years of guilt could have been averted. He’s got nothing to be guilty of. Rich boy loves sick dad, flies halfway round the world to see him. Move along. Nothing to see here.


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