Prince Harry, professional soldier, philanthropist, and ginger heartthrob for millions worldwide—Americans wouldn’t be ready for sexy Archie on the new CW hit Riverdale if we hadn’t been primed by Harry first, am I right?—made an important announcement in this week: He has feelings.
On its own, this is a startling enough admission from an English male, let alone a Windsor, a clan which, if you’ve watched The Crown as obsessively as I have, you know has traditionally made do with a stiff upper lip and a stiffer drink when anything as much as an errant emotion raises its ugly head. Not only does Harry have feelings, he has, according to The Telegraph, from time to time found them so overwhelming and destructive that he has actually sought therapy from a licensed professional.
That’s right: A member of the Royal Family has seen a shrink.
This not to say that Harry has suddenly turned into Alexander Portnoy, or even Richard Lewis. He’s not worried that one of his freckles has suddenly become malignant, or that his toaster is trying to kill him, or that his upstairs neighbors are secretly Nazi war criminals (although given that his neighbor at Kensington Palace is Princess Michael of Kent, formerly Baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz, whose father Gunther was a cavalry officer in the SS, he might do well to wonder). Harry simply never properly dealt with his overwhelming grief following the early and traumatic death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. According to Harry, he “shut down all his emotions” for years and, only after feeling “on the verge of punching someone” coupled with overwhelming anxiety while performing royal engagements, did he decide—on the urging of his brother, Prince William, no less—to go and see someone.
You guys: It’s all so therapized and self-aware, it’s almost Jewish.
If this is a sign that the culture of Buckingham Palace is turning towards, if not quite the synagogue, then at least towards the Upper West Side, it wouldn’t necessarily be the first. Judeophiles and anti-Semites alike have long watched the royals for signs—often misguided—of Judaic sympathies or affectations. And throughout the past couple of centuries at least, the main one has been the somewhat eccentric tendency of the ruling clan to circumcise their male infants, a practice at odds with the majority of the European population (at least those not placed from birth under an unbreakable covenant.) This custom allegedly stopped on the volition of the aforementioned Princess Diana.
But if William and Harry are the first Windsors in 200 years not to be circumcised, they are also almost certainly the first in history to go to therapy. And while it’s probably a stretch to call a stretch on the couch its own kind of Hebrew ritual—a secular circumcision, if you will, invented overwhelming at the turn of the 19th century by Jews as a way of coping with their own cultural dislocation in Central Europe, inventing a kind of scientific liturgy of the mind—it’s also a lot more typically Jewish than going out and killing animals in the Scottish Highlands to deal with your feelings of aggression. So six of one, half a dozen of the other, I say.
And what will come next in Harry’s self-actualized transformation? Will he start using phrases like the “transference” and “birth order” in conversation while he’s waiting on line for lox at Zabar’s during his next official visit to the United States? Will he suddenly develop an allergy to his horse, or start debating the Israel/Palestine question, while constantly disagreeing with himself? It’s too early to say, but he is dating an American actress. When he starts talking about his new screenplay and showing up in horn-rimmed glasses to agitate for justice at Writer’s Guild of America meetings, then we’ll see. Until then, it’s just nice to have some cognitive behavioral management this close to the throne.
Rachel Shukert is the author of the memoirs Have You No Shame? and Everything Is Going To Be Great,and the novel Starstruck. She is the creator of the Netflix show The Baby-Sitters Club, and a writer on such series as GLOW and Supergirl. Her Twitter feed is @rachelshukert.