Harry’s duty of love
“I love Nottingham,” Prince Harry has declared. He and his fiancée, Meghan Markle, had a highly successful visit there on Friday. As the descendant of a 19th-century Lord Mayor of the city, I feel a tiny share in the local pride. There is a potential trap here, though. Years ago, when the Queen was 70, I commissioned a profile of her for the Telegraph. The author unearthed a revealing little story. The Queen was about to visit a northern city and was presented with a draft of the speech she was to give there. “I am very pleased to be in X,” it said. The Queen studied the draft and then crossed out the word “very”. Why? No doubt it was part of the natural moderation of her character. But I think she had an almost consti-tutional motive, too. She is Queen equally of everywhere in the kingdom. She must not favour one place over another. She should always try to be pleased (however difficult it may sometimes be) to be wherever she is. But if she claims to be “very” pleased, she must say it every time, everywhere. And if she declared she loved one place, she would raise the stakes dangerously high. If she said she loved everywhere she went in her 16 realms, people would find it hard to believe her. So, wisely, she doesn’t start down that track. She is always polite, never effusive. No doubt Prince Harry will get away with loving Nottingham. His youthful ardour is attractive. No one, at this moment, could sensibly take offence if he fails to say he loves Middlesbrough, Swindon or wherever. But over the longer term, being royal involves being equally, mildly nice to everyone – which is why it is one of the most exhausting roles in the world.