I'm briefly popping in to chat about Prince Harry's stellar turn as guest editor for BBC Radio 4's flagship programme Today. The meticulously curated three-hour programme covered a range of topics the Prince is passionate about. Of course, Harry wasn't going to get away without a question or two about Meghan. During a brief chat, Harry revealed they enjoyed a "fantastic" Christmas.
The Telegraph reports:
Asked about how Ms Markle coped meeting the "in-laws" the prince replied: "It was fantastic, she really enjoyed it." Later, he added: “It’s the family that, I suppose, she’s never had”.
Ms Markle joined the Queen and royal family at Sandringham on Christmas Day, and was photographed walking arm in arm with Prince Harry to the service at St Mary Magdalene Church.
Prince Harry said that the family “loved having her there”, adding that they had “great fun” staying with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and playing with the children.
Describing Ms Markle’s first royal Christmas, he said: “It was fantastic, she really enjoyed it, the family loved having her there and you know, there is always that family part of Christmas, there is always that work element as well.
“Together we had an amazing time, we had great fun staying with my brother and sister In law and running round with the kids. Christmas was fantastic. We are really looking forward to new year and looking forward to 2018.”
You can see Harry in the video below.
"The family loved having her there."— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) December 27, 2017
Prince Harry on Meghan Markle's first royal Christmas.
More here: https://t.co/pF8KPDKV2L#r4today pic.twitter.com/uwQCUiw1gV
Harry's words paint a wonderful picture of him, Meghan, William and Kate at Anmer having a ball with George and Charlotte. It was excellent to see the four of them together on Christmas Day. I think it's quite obvious how close they are and how warmly Meghan has been welcomed into the fold. 2018 is going to be an unforgettable year; it's no surprise to hear Harry is eagerly awaiting the new year.
Indeed, the programme included many fantastic moments, and perhaps the finest of those was hearing Prince Harry interview his father Prince Charles about his busy year and his key focus for 2018. It was a very natural, almost off-the-cuff chat between father and son filled with affection (Harry calls Charles "Pa"). Harry asked: "Do you feel optimistic about the future, for the world that William, myself, your grandchildren and everyone else out there is going to inherit?" Charles replied: "Well my dear boy if I must say so, the fact you're saying this, gives me enormous optimism. I haven't obviously put you off when banging on all these years, because if you think that, that is really encouraging. What I've tried to do all these years is to make sure that I can ensure that you and that your children, my grandchildren, also everyone else's grandchildren, have a world fit to live in." Harry added: "I totally see it and I totally understand it because of all these years of conversations that we've been having, I do end up picking your brains more now than I ever have done." His father added: "Well, darling boy, it makes me very proud to think that you understand." You can listen to their chat here.
Another highlight was an insightful pre-recorded interview with President Obama. Harry is close with both Barack and Michelle Obama; they have been vocal supporters of the Invictus Games, as Harry has been of the Obama Foundation. Harry credits their shared belief in young people as the cornerstone of their bond.
President Obama spoke about young people:
“I have seen the power of these young people and I think that the key...is to have confidence and give young people the ability to make decisions and drive their own organisations. When you give young people responsibilities they will rise to the occasion. I think we underestimate what young people can do so I think the key thing is creating a platform and we can get into the detail of how you set it up to actually give young people power. Give them the ability to go out there and change the world.”
Harry added: “If you really want to make change you need to look up from your phone, you need to get out into your communities and you need to stand up for what you believe in."
More on the conversation from USA Today:
"I wake up later," said former president Barack Obama of what’s different about his mornings now. It’s wonderful to be able to control your day in a way that you just can’t as president."
When asked if he felt relief after finishing what's arguably the world's toughest job, Obama said: “Relief probably isn’t the right phrase because relief indicates that I can’t wait until this thing is finished. But I think that there was a sense that we had run a good race."
“But the things that are important to me haven’t changed," he added. "I still care about making sure that the United States and the world is a place where kids get a decent education, where people who are willing to work hard are able to find a job that pays a living wage. Although I don’t have the same tools that I had as president, I have to rely more on persuasion than legislation … a lot of the things that still motivate and move me continue to this day."
Obama told Harry there are some things he misses about the job. “I miss my team. Everything you do every day you know can affect millions and billions of people in some cases and to have really smart, focused people who are there for the right reasons and who over time have built up trust and have learned to support each other, rely on each other, I miss that," he said.
"All of us in leadership have to find ways to recreate a common space on the internet,” he said. One of the dangers of the internet is that people can have entirely different realities. They can be cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases. The question has to do with how do we harness this technology in a way that allows a multiplicity of voices, allows a diversity of views, but doesn't lead to a Balkanisation of society and allows ways of finding common ground."
The chat ended on a lighthearted note with a list of quickfire questions. Does President Obama prefer Suits or The Good Wife? Queen or the Queen? Rachel or Monica? Buckingham Palace or the White House? Click to listen to the interview and find out :)
"Queen or The Queen?"— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) December 27, 2017
Download the full interview with @BarackObama here: https://t.co/agPaFjyYzZ#r4today pic.twitter.com/LELtEguLQN
Harry declined to reveal if the Obamas will be there on the wedding day. More from People:
“Well, I don’t know about that,” Harry said. “We haven’t put the invites or the guest list together yet so who knows whether he’s going to be invited or not. [I] wouldn’t want to ruin that surprise.”
Other segments during the show included a conversation on mental health and the importance of looking after employees. Sir Simon Wessely from King's College explained that businesses need to take their staff's mental health seriously: "It's about your workforce. If you are doing it in your company it has a measurable impact on productivity." The Invictus Games and their positive effect on competitors as well as their families was discussed. Prince Harry asked two Young Commonwealth Leaders to share why they are proud to be part of this Commonwealth family and how they hope the work they do will inspire millions of other young people globally. Prince Harry chatted about his African Parks work with experts. The important issue of trust in the charity sector was also raised. You can listen to the entire programme here. If you have time, I can assure you it's a compelling, informative and enjoyable listen.
Harry utilised his guest spot as editor and the result was a jam-packed morning filled with fascinating and entertaining moments. Bringing together a global figure like President Obama and the future King to discuss issues close to their hearts was a stroke of brilliance. Harry was very relaxed and had an excellent rapport with both. The use of the allocated time to inform the public more on Invictus, mental health, the work in African Parks and highlighting the Commonwealth all served to produce a show that has been described as a resounding success.
The Guardian newspaper has hailed Harry as "the monarchy's best insurance policy":
'The audience profile of the Today programme in no way resembles the millennials whose support the monarchy needs to survive into the prince’s generation. All the same, he turned the programme into an effective showcase for the skills he can bring to his difficult role as constitutional appendix. He managed to conduct interviews with the least cool global figure – his father, Prince Charles – and the most cool, Barack Obama, in a way that allowed them both to look as good as they could.
Prince Harry may yet turn out to be the crown’s best insurance policy. By marrying Meghan Markle, he is linking royalty with a 21st-century celebrity who has a backstory that many people in Britain can identify with. She shares his unquestionable commitment to the subject of mental health that brought a contemplative quality to the long conversation with President Obama that is often missing from public debate.'
The paper continued:
“Republicans are right to worry. Prince Harry’s Today was a stunning public relations feat that achieved several different goals at once – showcasing the utility of royalty and building the brand, aligning his ‘young royals’ brand and his father’s."
Opinion: I've given a lot of thought to the comments left in our last post, 'Harry and Meghan Spend Christmas at Sandringham'. I think it's quite impossible to quantify the enormity of joining the British Royal family. It is a completely new chapter, new career, new rules, new country for Meghan. She is starting a new life. There are, too, many perks of course, and obligations, which I feel confident she will fulfil with aplomb when her official role commences. No matter how confident, competent, independent and successful she is, this is a huge, life-changing time for Meghan. Christmas Day marked the first time she was photographed with the Royal family, her first public curtsy, her first time meeting members of the public at Sandringham. The eyes of the world are fixed on Meghan now, every item she wears, word she utters. She is keenly aware she is now representing the Royal family. The fact she appeared a little nervous and clung to Harry is only a sign she's human. I found comments suggesting it was "childish" and "nauseating" quite frankly melodramatic and ridiculous. This is a huge undertaking for anyone, and it's unrealistic to expect anyone to walk in, especially within four weeks of the engagement announcement, and know it all. I find it reassuring she appears so willing to learn. From what I could see, she turned to Harry, Kate and William before the curtsy. She isn't afraid to ask for advice, and the support of the family can only prove beneficial. She is as deserving of the opportunity to settle in and find her feet as previous royal brides. I believe every active member of the Royal family has responsibilities and duties, and should be held accountable accordingly, but let's give her a chance to actually get there.