Harry & Meghan will be free… but will they find happiness asks Alison Phillips

So now, at least, they’ll know.

Harry and Meghan will know if at the end of that Canadian rainbow there is a place where, free from the rigidity of our Royal Family, dreams really do come true.

I hope they do. For if one thing has become clear over the past week it’s how deeply unhappy they are here. Meghan could barely be out the place quick enough after she and Harry dropped their “we’re off” bombshell last Wednesday evening.

Harry has moped around with a face like thunder and apparently only saw his father and brother during the Sandringham summit – even though he’d been out the country since November.

Any parent or grandparent faced with this situation would almost certainly – after the fury and disappointment had subsided – come to the same conclusion: The only way to keep a relationship with your child is to let them go, make their own decisions, make their own mistakes, then still be there for them when they’re ready to return.

Some have accused the Queen of “caving in” to Harry and Meghan’s petulant demands. But what was her alternative? Chain them to the palace gates then programme them to smile and wave at passing tourists?

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She can still lay the law down over what commercial deals they can carry out and what income they’ll receive (knowing full well the public’s fury about free riders). And I guarantee we’ll see her do just that as full details of the plan emerge in coming days.

So yes, Meghan and Harry will be free to live the life they want.

Although God knows what this is precisely. On the one hand they appear to crave simplicity as far from here as it’s possible to get without disappearing off the map. On the other hand there’s their slick, new website, the talk of megabucks commercial deals and dreams of global philanthropy.

But whichever path they take there will no longer be anyone responsible for their happiness – or lack of it – but themselves. Not like in the past…

Meghan and her first husband split after 23 months of marriage, so no happy ending there. Her much discussed relationship with her father is over. She’s fallen out with her half-brother and sister.

The royal wedding was curious for how few friends attended from Meghan’s side. She didn’t hit it off with William and Kate. Nor would it appear she’s made other friends in the UK – with the exception of mega stars Elton John, Amal and George Clooney. There have been a string of clashes with staff.

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The quest for happiness has been similarly difficult for Harry. He may have had close relationships with friends and (until recently) family, but his life has been tinged with frustration and a struggle to find purpose. He felt tethered by the rules of the Firm and hated press attention.

Perhaps such a long list of difficulties for one couple is just down to terrible coincidence. Perhaps the fresh air of Canada will blow all their problems away.


But if not, there will be no one else left to blame but themselves – not the press, not the establishment, not the family.

Most of the time, happiness is a choice. A choice some people never make.

That wise old bird the Queen knows this. Just like she knows the only way Harry and Meghan could make their choice is by setting them free.

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