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Chapter no 123

Spare

ANGOLA. I traveled to that war-torn country, an official visit, and went specifically to several places where daily life had been poisoned by

land mines, including one town believed to be the most heavily mined place in all of Africa.

August 2013.

I wore the same protective gear my mother had worn when she visited Angola on her historic trip. I even worked with the same charity that had invited her: Halo Trust. I was deeply frustrated to learn from the charity’s executives and fieldworkers that the job she’d spotlighted, indeed the entire global crusade my mother had helped launch, was now stalled. Lack of resources, lack of resolve.

This had been Mummy’s most passionate cause at the end. (She’d gone to Bosnia three weeks before she’d gone to Paris in August 1997.) Many could still remember her walking alone into a live minefield, detonating a mine via remote control, announcing bravely: “One down, seventeen million to go.” Her vision of a world rid of land mines seemed within reach back then. Now the world was going backwards.

Taking up her cause, detonating a land mine myself, made me feel closer to her, and gave me strength, and hope. For a brief moment. But overall I felt that I was walking each day through a psychological, emotional minefield. I never knew when the next explosion of panic might be.

Upon returning to Britain, I did another dive into the research. I was desperate to find a cause, a treatment. I even spoke to Pa, took him into my confidence. Pa, I’m really struggling with panic attacks and anxiety. He sent me to a doctor, which was kind of him, but the doctor was a general practitioner with no knowledge or new ideas. He wanted to give me pills.

I didn’t want to take pills.

Not until I’d exhausted other remedies, including homeopathic ones. In my research I came across many people recommending magnesium, which was said to have a calming effect. True, it did. But in large quantities it also

had unpleasant side effects—loosens the bowels—which I learned the hard way at a mate’s wedding.

Over dinner one night at Highgrove, Pa and I spoke at some length about what I’d been suffering. I gave him the particulars, told him story after story. Towards the end of the meal he looked down at his plate and said softly: I suppose it’s my fault. I should’ve got you the help you needed years ago.

I assured him that it wasn’t his fault. But I appreciated the apology.

As autumn neared my anxiety was heightened, I think, by my impending birthday, the last of my twenties. Dregs of my youth, I thought. I was beset by all the traditional doubts and fears, asked myself all the basic questions people ask when they get older. Who am I? Where am I going? Normal, I told myself, except that the press was abnormally echoing my self-questioning.

Prince Harry…Why Won’t He Marry?

They dredged up every relationship I’d ever had, every girl I’d ever been seen with, put it all into a blender, hired “experts,” a.k.a. quacks, to try to make sense of it. Books about me dived into my love life, homed in on each romantic failure and near miss. I seem to recall one detailing my flirtation with Cameron Diaz. Harry just couldn’t see himself with her, the author reported. Indeed I couldn’t, since we’d never met. I was never within fifty meters of Ms. Diaz, further proof that if you like reading pure bollocks then royal biographies are just your thing.

Behind all this hand-wringing about me was something more substantive than “tittle-tattle.” It went to the whole underpinning of the monarchy, which was based on marriage. The great controversies about kings and queens, going back centuries, generally centered on whom they married, and whom they didn’t, and the children who issued from those unions. You weren’t a fully vested member of the Royal Family, indeed a true human being, until you were wed. No coincidence that Granny, head of state in sixteen countries, started every speech: “My husband and I…” When Willy and Kate married they became The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, but more important they became a Household, and as such were entitled to

more staff, more cars, bigger home, grander office, extra resources, engraved letterheads. I didn’t care about such perks, but I did care about respect. As a confirmed bachelor I was an outsider, a nonperson within my own family. If I wanted that to change, I had to get hitched. That simple.

All of which made my twenty-ninth birthday a complex milestone, and some days a complex migraine.

I shuddered to think of how I might feel on the next birthday: thirty. Truly over-the-hill. To say nothing of the inheritance it would trigger. Upon reaching thirty I’d receive a large sum left to me by Mummy. I scolded myself for being gloomy about that: most people would kill to inherit money. To me, however, it was another reminder of her absence, another sign of the void she’d left, which pounds and euros could never fill.

The best thing, I decided, was to get away from birthdays, get away from everything. I decided to mark the anniversary of my arrival on Earth by traveling to its end. I’d already been to the North Pole. Now I’d walk to the South.

Another trek in the company of Walking With The Wounded.

People warned me that the South Pole was even colder than the North. I laughed. How could that be possible? I’d already frozen my penis, mate— wasn’t that the very definition of worst-case scenario?

Also, this time I’d know how to take proper precautions—snugger underwear, more padding, etc. Better yet, one very close mate hired a seamstress to make me a bespoke cock cushion. Square, supportive, it was sewn from pieces of the softest fleece and…

Enough said.

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