It feels like almost every news headline this week has to do with Prince Harry and his new memoir, Spare, in which he recounts — in intimate detail — his personal experience as a member of the British royal family.
And during a conversation with Stephen Colbert on The Late Show Tuesday, the Duke of Sussex, 38, gave insight into why he thinks the global public is fascinated by his story.
When asked about the press and public’s appetite for news on the House of Windsor, Harry admitted that the interest in his family has always been a part of his life, but that he believes the interest in his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, “took it to a new level.”
“You know, Diana’s boys, let’s see how this turns out,” he told Colbert of the British public’s obsession with his and his older brother Prince William’s lives after their mother’s tragic death in 1997. “I think there was a real sense of, in some parts, ownership and, some parts, parenthood by the British public — feeling as though they had to parent myself and my brother through our teenage years.”
Harry goes on to say that once William, now 40, married Kate Middleton in 2011, the public was reassured that the heir would be OK. The concern for the spare, Harry, however, didn’t waver.
“‘Ohhh, what’s going to happen to the other one? I wonder,’” Harry explained of the public’s need-to-know mentality. “And then I’m falling out of clubs, I’m taking drugs, I’m drinking heavily, all of that. And that was a part of [my upbringing].”
The Duke of Sussex — who is now the father of son Archie, 3, and daughter Lilibet, 1, with his wife Meghan Markle — continued, saying that the world’s “relentless” need to know the whereabouts of his family’s after their move from the U.K. to California was an “eye-opener” for him.
“I never thought we’d be away from it completely, but I did think that we would get some form of peace. That’s when I realized that, actually, our mere existence outside of that institutional control was more of a threat. And a similar thing happened to my mom, as well.”
Harry said he himself was guilty of obsessively tracking news stories about his family, particularly Meghan during the height of the media’s coverage against her character.
“So many of us feed into it without realizing it,” he said of ingesting salacious headlines. “We click on photographs without really considering how that photograph was taken, and the story behind that photograph, especially of somebody’s kids.”
He added, “I was obsessed. I was specifically looking for stories about my wife so that I could educate myself on the opinions that were happening and the things that were being said so that I could try to fix it. Now, for me, I’ve weaned myself off that because I was slightly addicted to it. And I have digital diet, and as much as I worry what I put i my mouth, I worry about what I put through my eyes, as well.”
Harry also spoke about his relationship with his brother and how although the public always assumed they were thick as thieves growing up, that wasn’t the case. It was the narrative blasted out by the press. In actuality, there’s always been “fractures” in their brotherhood — it didn’t begin with Harry’s marriage to Meghan as so many now assume.
Watch more of Harry’s interview with Colbert here.