Queen's Cousin Contradicts Prince Harry's Comments on Royalty's Gilded Cage

Queen Elizabeth II's cousin, the Duke of Kent, says in a new memoir that he never felt "locked into a system that was operating against me" as a member of the royal family, contradicting Prince Harry's famous comment that he felt "trapped within the system, like the rest of my family."

The Duke of Kent's memoir, A Royal Life, marks him as the closest royal family member of the queen so far to publish his memories of her 70-year-long reign. The book is being compared to Harry's own memoir which is scheduled to be published before the end of the year.

In a statement released at the time Harry's book was announced, the prince said he was "writing this not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become."

Harry stepped down from his position as a full-time working member of the royal family in 2020 with wife Meghan Markle and has since spoken of the struggles of being part of the monarchy.

Duke of Kent Prince Harry Memoir Trapped
The Duke of Kent has written in his memoir that he "never felt locked into a system" being royal in contrast to comments made by Prince Harry to Oprah Winfrey. The Duke (L) photographed May 10, 2015. And Harry (R) photographed January 16, 2020. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images/Karwai Tang/WireImage

Interviewed by Oprah Winfrey last year, both Harry and Meghan expressed feeling "trapped" inside the royal "firm" and said that the other family members were too.

"I was trapped, but I didn't know I was trapped," Harry said, adding that he was: "Trapped within the system, like the rest of my family are. My father and my brother, they are trapped. They don't get to leave."

In the prologue of his memoir, the Duke of Kent, who is the first cousin of the queen as a son of her uncle Prince George, made the point that he has never felt similarly about his royal role and that he believes supporting the queen is the "most important" thing in his life.

Written in the form of a conversation, the duke's co-author Hugo Vickers made a thinly veiled reference to Harry and Meghan in his comment:

"My theory is that working within the royal family is the right way to operate as a supportive member of the royal family. The system is easy to work with, and the queen is the person you are helping in a general sense, and you can also do other things for the general good that interest you. Taking Prince Philip, he worked out whenever he was needed and when he wasn't he explored many different enterprises."

To this the duke responded:

"Exactly, I never felt I was locked into a system that was operating against me, or restricting me unduly."

"I always felt I wanted to support [the queen]. That's by far the most important thing in life."

The queen has been close to her cousin since childhood, the pair only being 10 years apart in age. When Prince Philip retired in 2017 the duke was asked to step in and accompany the queen on some of her engagements including, in previous years, the Trooping of the Colour parade.

Aged 86, the duke lives with his wife, Katharine, at Kensington Palace and was formerly next-door neighbors with Harry and Meghan who lived at Nottingham Cottage. Both the Duke and Duchess of Kent received invitations to attend the couple's wedding at Windsor Castle in 2018.

The duke's memoirs are notably discreet with no behind-palace-walls exposes or "truth bombs" but a selection of remembrances of major events such as the death of King George VI, the coronation of his cousin Elizabeth and her 1977 Silver Jubilee celebrations.

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The Duke of Kent has been close to his cousin the queen since they were children (L) photographed January 5, 2005. Despite being neighbours to Princess Diana for over a decade she is not mentioned by the duke in his memoir (R) photographed May 1990. Rota/Getty Images/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

Little is revealed of the current generations of the royal family and the duke makes no reference in the book to his Kensington Palace neighbor of many years, Princess Diana.

Harry's literary effort is sure to fill this void however, promising to tell the "highs and lows" of his life so far and show that "no matter where we come from, we have more in common than we think."

This year marks the queen's Platinum Jubilee and it was announced earlier this month that the monarch would show special appreciation of her lesser known royal cousins by inviting them to stand on Buckingham Palace's balcony for the Trooping of the Colour flypast alongside the other working royals only. This means that Harry, Meghan and Prince Andrew will not be on the balcony as they have stepped away from royal duties.

The Duke of Kent has been invited to stand alongside his sister, Princess Alexandra and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, also cousins of the queen.

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