Was Harry’s chat show appearance the clickbait he so despises?

There’s no doubt Harry was a fun royal to report on.

His laid-back style and his natural rapport with people created some great little moments that made stories out of very ordinary engagements and produced fantastic pictures.

Moments like messing around with Usain Bolt in Jamaica or slapping a purple handprint of fresh paint on the forehead of photographer Arthur Edwards in New Zealand.

Britain's Prince Harry, right, and Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt pose for photographers doing Bolt's landmark gesture after a mock race in Kingston, Jamaica, Tuesday March 6, 2012. The Prince is in Jamaica as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour in honor of Queen Elizabeth II who celebrates 60 years on the throne. His visit comes as the new prime minister, Portia Simpson Miller, has called anew for the severing of ties with the British monarchy. (AP Photo/Collin Reid)
Image:Prince Harry felt comfortable enough to joke in front of the cameras with Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt Pic: AP

But I’ll never forget the times that I was told Prince Harry didn’t just want to be a performing monkey. He wouldn’t just perform for the sake of it, it needed to be spontaneous, he wouldn’t just play to the cameras.

Which is why this interview with James Corden is so interesting.

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Harry says press was ‘destroying my mental health’

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Corden is one of his friends and was a guest at Harry and Meghan’s wedding. But when you do an interview with James Corden you’re also expected to play along and not take yourself too seriously. Prince Harry is no exception.

As the interview goes along Harry seems to settle into it, but at the start you can’t help but think he looks a little uncomfortable.

Prince Harry: Why he stepped back from royal duties and what the Queen bought Archie for Christmas

Prince Harry: Why he stepped back from royal duties and what the Queen bought Archie for Christmas

It’s just not the kind of thing he would have done as a royal.

The stark contrast between what he would do in his old public life and what’s now on the agenda in his new one could not be clearer.

Afternoon tea on an open top bus, Harry popping to use the toilet in the LA mansion that featured on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Meghancalling him “Haz” on a facetime call, and Harry and James doing a military assault course, make it a very funny and compelling watch.

And surely that fun side is what we always loved about Harry – why wouldn’t we want to see more of that?

But he also uses this as a platform to get some of the serious personal stuff off his chest and that won’t sit comfortably with some.

We know Harry and Meghan have a deep dislike of the UK tabloid press, but we’ve not heard him go this far before in blaming them for damaging his mental health, and being the reason he says he had to step back, not step down, from royal life.

His thoughts on The Crown, what he tells us about his Zoom chats with the Queen and Prince Philip, and that moment when he says the Queen bought his son Archie a waffle maker for Christmas, are all extraordinary bits of television.

But it’s the personal insights that he’ll be criticised for. How can Harry and Meghan complain about the media invading their privacy when they seem to want to talk about what’s going on in their lives and open up about their feelings in a way they didn’t when they were inside the royal fold?

Don’t forget we also have that Oprah interview coming up on 8 March. And if Harry has opened up like this to James Corden, Oprah will want and expect a lot more.

In some ways Harry is doing more of what the press wants from the royals – the personal details, and the insight into what it’s like being part of the most famous family in the world.

But in building brand Sussex you can’t help but think that they potentially risk fuelling the clickbait stories they despise so much and wanted to escape.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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