It's the biggest and most important event on the royal calendar – the queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations, set to take place in June next year to pay homage to the monarch’s record-breaking 70 years on the British throne.
Several days’ worth of events are being planned in the UK to honour the reign of a woman who’s dedicated her life to duty and country. Already the stage is being set, the itinerary fine-tuned, the guest lists finalised for festivities that will be the highlight of Queen Elizabeth’s jubilee year.
But what should be a happy if busy preparation period is being overshadowed by yet another bomb that’s been dropped on the royal family.
News recently broke that Prince Harry will be releasing his memoir later next year – and while he’s promised it will be an “accurate and wholly truthful” account of his life, many are fearful of what it could contain.
Harry (36) is reportedly writing two books, one of which will be released only after his grandmother dies. He’s believed to have overseen the offers from publishing houses and started bidding at the princely sum of $25 million (R373m).
“The final contract was actually a four-book deal,” a publishing insider told Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper. “What’s most shocking, frankly, is Harry’s suggestion that the second book won’t be published until the queen is no longer here. People will start asking, ‘What’s he got, who’s he going to target?’
“The very idea of this unexploded bomb hanging about waiting for the queen to pass is just extraordinary and may strike many as being in bad taste.”
Harry’s camp later said the claims that he’d wait for the queen to die were “false and defamatory”.
Still, the news is likely to drive an even greater wedge between Harry and the rest of the royals.
“I’d think his family are tired,” says royal biographer Penny Junor. “Tired of there being yet another blood-letting, and they’re bracing themselves for what he might say.
“It’s not what the queen needs. She’s 95 years old, she’s done nothing but love him and support him. I think it’s a regrettable move.”
Others share her sentiments. “We mustn’t prejudge it, but the gut feeling is it won’t provide the happiest of ends to the queen’s platinum jubilee year,” agrees Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty Magazine.
“I’m pretty sure they would’ve hoped to have drawn a line under Harry and his public pronouncements but clearly he feels there’s more to be said.”
In a statement, Harry said he wrote the book “not as the prince I was born but as the man I’ve become.
“I’ve worn many hats over the years, both literally and figuratively, and my hope is that in telling my story – the highs and lows, the mistakes, the lessons learnt – I can help show that no matter where we come from, we have more in common than we think.
“I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to share what I’ve learnt over the course of my life so far and excited for people to read a first-hand account of my life.”
But experts predict the book will be more “poor me” introspection and more excuses to justify his quitting The Firm last year and moving to the US with his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and their son, Archie.
News of the book has provoked “much eye-rolling” among many senior royals who are fed up with “truthbombing” interviews that started with the couple’s sitdown with Oprah Winfrey in March where they accused the royal family of racism and bullying, according to one insider.
Harry subsequently also accused his father, Prince Charles (72), and by default, his grandmother, of passing down a “cycle of genetic pain and suffering” that he was going to break in the raising of two-year-old Archie and two-month-old daughter Lilibet.
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