Prince Harry’s ‘disquieting role reversal’ as he turns 37: ‘Frozen in time’

Prince Harry on taking part in the Warrior Games

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The Duke of Sussex turns 37 today and has been wished well by several members of the Royal Family. Harry’s grandmother the Queen posted several snaps of her grandson to mark his special day. One was a picture of Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, who he lives with in Montecito, California. Another is of the Duke’s work for the Foster a Forest initiative to plant trees in Botswana’s Chobe District.

In an accompanying message the monarch said: “Wishing The Duke of Sussex a happy birthday today!”

Prince Charles also took Twitter to wish his son well on his birthday.

The Prince of Wales posted several pictures of Harry at different stages in his life, including as a young man and a teenager.

Amid the birthday celebrations, Harry may also be reflecting on his late mother, Princess Diana as he becomes older than her.

The Princess of Wales had turned 36 just weeks before she and her beau Dodi Fayed were killed in a car crash in Paris in 1997.

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The 24th anniversary of Diana’s death came at the end of last month.

To mark the sombre occasion the public were allowed into the grounds of Diana’s former home to view a statue of the People’s Princess.

Harry and his brother Prince William unveiled the bronze statue of their mother in July.

Several people have written about what it is like to become older than their parents, giving an insight into how Harry may be feeling about his mother.

In an unearthed article for HuffPost Tamsin Eva wrote about the effect of a deceased parent never ageing.

She said: “Becoming older than a parent can be a troubling transition.

“At the most base, mathematical level, it’s hard to comprehend how they can still be your parent if you are older than they ever were.

“When a parent dies they become frozen in time, forever their age at death. You write it on medical history forms and mutter it in sympathetically awkward conversations.

“Like a mummified memory, preserved for all to recall as things were, but not what would have been. Your parent has to be older than you.

“If you become older than they were, it’s as if they are no longer the parent. Almost like a disquieting role reversal where you become the parent of the parent.”

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Harry left the Royal Family with Meghan last year and moved to the US where the couple are now raising their two young children, Archie Harrison and Lilibet Diana.

Harry has opened up about the impact being in the spotlight has had on his mental health and his relationships.

He has also linked his departure from his royal duties to the death of his mother.

The Duke spoke to ITV’s Tom Bradby about Diana in 2019 during his and Meghan’s 10-day tour of Africa.

The trip saw Harry walk through the minefield in Angola that Diana also visited in 1997, six months before she died.

Harry told Mr Bradby described his mother’s death as “a wound that festers” when asked if he was at peace or not.

He added: “I think being part of this family, and this role, and this job, every single time I see a camera, every single time I hear a click, every single time I see a flash, it takes me straight back.

“In that respect… it’s the worst reminder of her life as opposed to the best.”
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