Marcia was one of the many royal journalists I was delighted to meet in Colorado. Having recently released a biography on Kate she’s now in the midst of completing a bio on Prince Harry (due out next Spring.) Not bad work if you can get it, huh? She was kind of enough to provide some insight into what it’s like writing about royalty for a living.
What’s your background and how did you begin writing about the royal family?
My background is in celebrity journalism. I was features editor on OK magazine which had always focused on what the mainstream audience was interested in, and there hadn’t previously been much demand for royal stories. When William and Kate got engaged, the whole country sat up, and suddenly it seemed everyone wanted to read about the royal family. I was made royal correspondent, and then wrote Kate: A Biography which is out right now, and Harry: A Biography which is out in the spring. I wanted to write the books for a younger readership, and those who are newly-intrigued about the royal family and want to know more.
What have been some of your favorite experiences on tour with Harry?
I feel like this is a bit of an obvious answer, but Harry’s first day in Jamaica during his Caribbean Diamond Jubilee Tour last year was incredible. On this one day he showed so many of the different aspects of who he is as a man – covering sports, humour, diplomacy, caring and fun. In the morning he ‘raced’ against Usain Bolt, then he lunched with the Prime Minister who has always been very vocal about not wanting Jamaica to have a British monarch as their head of state – and yet after meeting Harry she gushed, ‘I’m in love with him!’ In the afternoon he visited a children’s hospital and spent longer than scheduled with the kids there, and then he went onto a facility for inner city youths offering education and training, where he danced in his blue suede shoes. The energy of the whole day was infectious, and everyone there was on such a high to have been a part of it.
As he’s matured, how do you think his attitude towards the media has changed?
I’m not sure it has changed all that much. Although I do think he realises now that the media can help cast a light on the issues he’s trying to raise awareness of.
How much do you think the popularity of and interest in Harry and William is due to their mother?
In their early lives I think the interest in them was largely due to their mother, and there is certainly still an element of that now. However William is in his early thirties now, and Harry will be thirty next year and they are very much their own men. They will always be Diana’s sons, but I think now people are interested in them much more in their own right – the things they’re doing, and the choices they’re making.
Do you think his choice of being an active duty solider has been a wise one?
Ultimately yes. I think he needed to do it in order to be the best version of himself. Harry admits that he was not a good student, whilst in the royal family he will always be the prince while William will one day be king – however Harry excels in the military. If he had not been able to serve I think he would have suffered. As he has been able to achieve his potential in that area, I think it makes him a much happier person, and therefore a more fulfilled and useful member of his family.
What type of role do you think he’ll have when William is king?
I think Harry will continue to carve his own path – working with injured service-people, with children, and in Africa – but it will very much complement and fit very neatly with what his brother is doing. William and Harry are so close, they share pretty much all the same interests and have been through many of the same experiences and so Harry will be an incomparable support to his brother publicly and privately. In the past Harry has wished that he wasn’t a prince, but I think as the years go by he will mature into his role. I think he will feel prouder of what he and his brother have achieved.
What’s the challenge of being a biographer compared to a reporter?
I think it’s tougher being a reporter because of the pace, but I guess the challenge of a biographer is to not just offer straight information, but also to gradually build a picture of the subject so the reader feels that they really know this person.
What period of his life have you enjoyed writing about the most?
I have loved learning more about his childhood – there is a lot of new information I found out, and I was fascinated.
When you’re not chronicling the royals or humoring people from twitter, what do you like to do?
I’ve always loved photography and took a course last year, and I also love travelling – everyone’s experience of a place will be unique. The journey is part of it – you have to accept that as soon as you set out, there are so many factors that are out of your control and I like the fact that you just have to roll with whatever happens.