Prince Harry’s ‘problematic’ speech at concert exposed Duke’s ‘hypocrisy’
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Prince Harry's appearance at a star-studded LA event promoting vaccination was met with a standing ovation — but a royal commentator says his speech was "problematic".
The Duke, 36, took to the stage at SoFi stadium for Global Citizen's VAX Live: The Concert to Reunite the World on Sunday evening in his first public appearance since returning from Prince Philip's UK funeral.
The show, which will air later this week, featured an all-star line-up of celebrities including Selena Gomez, Jennifer Lopez and the Foo Fighters, all using their star power to encourage Americans to get the Covid-19 jab.
Harry, serving as campaign chair along with wife Meghan Markle, was the "most enthusiastically received" of all of them, the LA Times reports, with the crowd jumping to their feet and cheering when he walked onstage to deliver his speech.
"In reality, and especially with this pandemic, when any suffer, we all suffer," he said.
"We must look beyond ourselves with empathy and compassion for those we know, and those we don't."
In a column for news.com.au, royal expert Daniela Elser said Harry's words were "passionate and heartfelt…and also, a touch problematic".
She claims his emphasis on empathy and shared humanity is at odds with his own behaviour which recently saw him "shred not only his family's reputation but the institution his grandmother has dedicated her life to serving".
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"The sticking point here for the renegade Duke all comes down to the 'H' word – hypocrisy," she writes.
While Elser applauds Harry using his fame to push for change, she says there have been a number of instances of him preaching one thing and doing another.
In March 2019 he told a youth empowerment event not to let themselves be swayed by social media, a month before he and Meghan launched their successful @SussexRoyal Instagram account.
Elser also needles Harry for the discrepancy between his climate activism and his personal carbon footprint.
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He once spoke at a Google Camp in Sicily about climate change, despite reportedly staying on a super yacht while there.
She criticises Harry for his use of private jets.
But in response, Harry previously said of them in 2019: "I spend 99% of my life traveling the world by commercial.
"Occasionally there needs to be an opportunity based on a unique circumstance to ensure my family are safe, and it’s genuinely as simple as that. But as I said in my speech, for me it's about balance."
His decision to speak up about racism, inspired by witnessing his mixed-race wife's alleged treatment by the Palace, also comes under scrutiny in the column.
"What he has not done during any of his Zoom appearances or earnest, wide-eyed public outings is acknowledge his own history here, you know, like the time he decided to dress up as a Nazi for a party or when video emerged of him using racial slurs, some of which he had filmed himself," she writes.
Elser acknowledges that Harry has apologised for both of these incidents, but says his actions still contradict his public identity and brand of a "certain sort of moralising virtuousness".
"What no one is questioning for a moment is that Harry's heart and head are in the right place," she writes.
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"But, if Harry wants to take the lead on these topics (and there is something of a position vacant there) then he needs to do two things."
These two things are making peace with his past by taking public accountability for his youthful mistakes, and "ensuring that his words and deeds tally up".
Elser advises the Duke to "buy a Tesla, demonstrate some kindness and forgiveness towards his potentially frosty family, invest in some solar panels" to show some ideological consistency.
"The world needs leadership and Harry with his heart-on-his-sleeve zeal could be one of the most exciting voices to emerge in the 21st century, though only if he can escape being hoist on his own "gas-guzzling" petard," she says.
"The biggest thing that stands in Harry's way right now to become the charging, global figure he seems to want to be? Himself."
Prince Harry's representatives have been contacted for comment.
- Prince Harry
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