JENNI MURRAY: Harry has been there in his father’s hour of need, just like my boys rushed to be with me
It came as no surprise to me that Prince Harry made it to Los Angeles Airport as soon as his father, the King, called him to tell him he had been diagnosed with cancer. He clearly couldn’t get to Britain fast enough, and touched down at lunchtime on Tuesday.
It is often thought that daughters are the ones who drop everything to help a sick parent – that sons cannot be relied on in the same way. Too busy, or not that empathetic. But the Duke of Sussex certainly refutes this outdated assumption.
Harry seemed to brush aside the hurtful comments he had made about his family in recent years. Without shame or hesitation, he left alone to be with his father. The meeting between the two may have been a short 45 minutes, or less, but as it was the first time they had had proper time together for 17 months, it was a visit that spoke volumes for Harry’s concern for his father .
From my own recent experiences, I know all too well how loving boys will drop everything to offer you their love and support in your hour of need.
Jenni Murray with (from left) husband David and sons Charlie and Ed after she was appointed a Dame Commander by the Queen at Buckingham Palace
First came the fall in December that resulted in the painful broken vertebrae. My sons Ed and Charlie took turns helping me through the grueling process of lying still on my back for five MRI scans. As I screamed in pain and begged to be let out of the machine, they spoke softly and warmly, telling me it would be over soon and I needed to be brave so the full scan could be taken. They even managed to stroke my hair. Without them there, I think I would have gone crazy.
Then, worried that being home alone would be too much for me, they arranged care in a respite home where I could recuperate.
They did physio, occasionally went out for dinner and then, when one of the nurses noticed a faint heartbeat, they were there at the hospital when atrial fibrillation – a condition that causes an irregular heartbeat – was diagnosed.
On my next emergency admission to the hospital on New Year’s Eve, this time with double pneumonia, they were there again.
I am home now but they are still supportive as the cardiologist plans treatment.
As I struggled with all these sudden shocks and felt quite miserable, I knew I was loved and never had to worry about not having a daughter to support me as I grew older. Boys are more than enough.
The King, I’m sure, now knows as I do that the young boys — men — he raised are there for him, regardless of circumstances.
Even if the brothers did not meet this time, William must surely be relieved that Harry showed his sense of duty and care for family ties in this way.
Charles and his sons on a family skiing holiday in Switzerland in 2005
JENNI MURRAY: I still believe Harry is a good boy at heart whose mother taught him to care about people who are going through hard times. Maybe now he will remember those values
The Prince of Wales must be anxious that his father may not be fit to do his job in the way he expects to do it. His wife is recovering at home from her own medical emergency. There are three young children who need the attention of a parent. Never has the arrival of The Spare been so fitting – or welcome.
I have no doubt that Harry, aware of the problems facing his sibling, is ready to put to rest the rivalry that has existed between them for so long. This is no time for bits about dog bowls, competing for attention or jealous point-scoring. This is what many brothers do, but my hope is that Harry’s visit at least hints at his regret for all the nasty things he has said and written, and a desire to restore the loving relationship he once had with both his father and his brother had, to recover.
I still believe Harry is a good boy at heart whose mother taught him to care about people going through hard times. Maybe now he will remember those values.
I can only hope that in time Harry apologizes to his brother in the deepest, most honorable way, gives him a hug and asks what he can do to help. I wish he saw Kate too to express his sympathy for her illness and restore the close and loving relationship they once had. He must also ask his Aunt Anne for advice on how to return to the fold as a valued family member.
Most of all, Harry must try to fully make his peace with his father. I sincerely hope they hugged each other when they met in Clarence House on Tuesday. I’m sure deep down all Charles wants is for Harry to just be there – loving, supportive and grown up. Part of the family again.
Why do we have to ‘spies’ health visitors who despise mums
I am horrified by this week’s report by the Academy of Medical Sciences which reveals how children are being ‘betrayed’ as the UK fails to give them a healthy start in life. More than a fifth of five-year-olds are overweight or obese. Almost a quarter have tooth decay. Fewer of them are vaccinated and there is an increase in infant mortality.
What happened to the safeguarding of children that was de rigueur when my children were small? Namely health visitors. We called them spies and boss boots and dreaded their visits, but they were highly trained to make sure we fed our children well, that they were well cared for and protected.
Natural, like everything else, there is a shortage of health visitors and a recent survey showed that half of those remaining intend to quit in the next five years. So, there are now no dentists, no mental health services, not enough doctors or nurses and now no health visitors to look after the young and vulnerable. This is child abuse, nothing less.
Northern Ireland First Minister Michelle O’Neil, left, and her deputy Emma Little-Pengelly
It is a relief to see that Northern Ireland has a government again and it is led by two women – Michelle O’Neil and Emma Little-Pengelly on opposite sides of the great divide. I am reminded of Mo Mowlam cutting through the sexism and macho behavior of confident men at the time of the Good Friday talks. I suspect these two could join forces and have the same effect.
- The Minister for Justice, Mike Freer, is my MP for now. His North London constituency office, which suffered an arson attack at Christmas, is not far from my house. He is not Jewish, but in a very Jewish constituency he is, not surprisingly, a ‘Conservative Friend of Israel’. Fearing for his life, he will step down at the next election. How shocking that he is not allowed to speak his mind.
This rage over age gap sex scenes is idiotic
Martin Freeman and Jenna Ortega in Miller’s Girl, directed by Jade Bartlett
Much shock and horror on social media over Martin Freeman (52) and Jenna Ortega (21) pretending to have sex in a new film Miller’s Girl.
The story sounds a bit old hat and dodgy – teacher abusing power over student – but the actors are just pretending. That’s their job — you don’t have to look at it!