Prince Harry ‘in control of public image’ as new Spotify podcast announced

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry secure Spotify podcast deal

Harry grew up behind Palace walls and so has been in the public eye since his birth. His mother, Princess Diana, grappled with the media throughout her career on the royal frontline before she tragically died in a car crash in 1997. Since then, he has become particularly resistant to the idea that he would spend his life in the spotlight.

Harry even told friends that he planned to move to Africa and live a discreet life away from the public eye if he ever chose to leave his royal life behind.

However, he has instead stepped out of the royal world and into the celebrity sphere in California.

He and his wife Meghan have a megawatt contract with streaming giant Netflix, and have just announced they will be launching a Spotify podcast called Archewell Audio after reportedly securing a £30million ($40m) deal.

This has prompted debate among royal watchers over the Sussexes’ desire for privacy, as this was seen as the primary reason they chose to leave the royal frontline back in March.

In turn, some assume the step towards the media industry was driven by Meghan, as she is a former actress.

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Yet, Harry’s decision to guest-edit BBC Radio 4’s flagship programme, Today, back in December 2017 shows an early interest in both broadcasting and controlling his own output.

When the programme went live, media editor Graham Ruddick noted: “Both the BBC and Kensington Palace are likely to be celebrating the success of Prince Harry’s rare foray into the media world.”

He noted: “Agreeing to guest edit Today fits with the broader media strategy adopted by the younger members of the Royal Family — they are willing to open up but on their terms.”

Writing for The Guardian, he continued: “The prince has tried to take more control of his communications and image with the general public — often using social media to bypass traditional media outlets — and Today provided another platform to discuss issues that matter to him.”

Royal biographer Catherine Mayer said that the programme even suggested the beginning of a “royal resurgence” which would take off “at the end of the Elizabethan age” and help put an end to republican sentiment.

It was clear that Harry enjoyed working as a host rather than the interviewee a great deal more.

He was evidently delighted with the show, which ran on December 27 with a 6am start, when he said: “I’m hugely grateful for this platform to be able to discuss topics that I think really need to be discussed and thought about.”

The Duke of Sussex would have been able to control the direction of a conversation and maintained barriers around his private life as a host.

Harry was interviewed only briefly during the programme — but even that was a potential danger zone, according to former Today host, John Humphrys.

Writing in The Daily Mail, he said: “I’m afraid to say I declined the opportunity to present the programme that morning.

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Meghan Markle and Harry release Archewell Audio trailer

“I knew what would happen. I would want to ask what his minders would regard as impertinent or embarrassing questions and that would be the end of that.”

Harry is not the only royal to be conscious of what he might be asked about.

The editor of Channel 4 News, Ben de Pear, said he had been asked to sign a 14-page contract before he interviewed Prince Charles, who was also a guest on Harry’s guest-edited show.

He told The Guardian: “I wonder if Prince Harry or Today had to sign the 14-page contract including clauses ceding editorial control, pre-approved questions and final cut to Prince Charles I was sent when Channel 4 News was offered HRH.”

Aside from his father, Harry interviewed former President Barack Obama, the co-founder of the artificial intelligence company DeepMind, Demi Hassabis, and asked the boxer Anthony Joshua to appear, too.

He focused on armed forces, youth violence, conservation, the Commonwealth, mental health and women’s rugby throughout the show – many topics which he expected to continue focusing on even though he is no longer a working royal.

During the trailer released to amp up excitement for their new podcast, Meghan and Harry explained that their new series intends to “uplift and entertain audiences around the world”.

While the idea of a podcast and audio may have been more up Harry’s alley, the language used in their trailer is more in tune with Meghan’s previous rhetoric.

For instance, the couple said that they want to “build community through shared experience, narrative, and values”.

This element of community seems to be a throwback to Meghan’s now defunct lifestyle blog, ‘The Tig’, which the Duchess dubbed as an “amazing community of inspiration, support, fun and frivolity”.

In the trailer, Harry said: “So many people have been through so much pain this year.

“Experiencing loss, a huge amount of uncertainty but it feels worth acknowledging that 2020 has connected us in ways we never could have imagined through endless acts of compassion and kindness.”

The first episode will be a holiday special and set to drop this month.

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