Maxim Behar on 7/8 TV about Prince Harry's book
PR expert Maxim Behar appeared on “Slavi’s Show” to comment on the release of Prince Harry's book “Spare”, in which he shares details about the royal family, his mental health and the reasons why he is giving up his royal privileges. Behar shares his views on the backlash Harry faced from the British society, as well as the future of the monarchy.
Host: Prince Harry's tell-all memoir “Spare” and the Netflix documentary “Harry & Meghan” caused some drama in the UK. Will the words of the prince disturb the trust in the royal family? Maxim Behar will elevate on this topic.
Host: I haven't read the book, but I watched a bit of the documentary. To me it is very embarrassing to turn against your family, against your grandmother, against your father like that. Don't you think so?
Maxim: I've been following him for 2 years. Before that there was an interview with Oprah Winfrey, then a few other interviews, the book etc. Especially the interview with Colbert was great because Colbert is very classy. However, for me, this whole situation is like a Hollywood scene, with a touch of Bollywood elements and with Brazilian duration.
Host: However, it does feature real characters.
Maxim: Real characters are involved, of course. Maybe they are unhappy with everything that happened. A lot of money is also involved. I have a theory which I think will come true in the future. It's that this whole story of Hollywood, Bollywood, whatever you want to call it, is a Buckingham project.
Maxim: What are Harry and Meghan saying in all these confessions of theirs?
Host: That they are the victims, that they are uncared-for.
Maxim: Yes, however, they say “Our family is like any other family” while the British Empire, the Royal Court stands very tall and untouchable. Until now, especially during the time of the late Queen Elizabeth, everything was very inaccessible and hidden. No one knew what was going on with Prince Andrew, who had some awful things happen to him. Much more unpleasant than Harry’s. Or with Charles, or with the others? Suddenly some people appear in front of an audience of hundreds of millions and say “We are just like you - we fight, we are a normal family. My father told me this, and that, and this is how it happened…my mother died, and we experienced it like that…” The interviews I think are better than the book, because they are the essence of what is written in it. Moreover, in the interview you have a two-way communication. Questions can be asked, especially some interesting ones that can make him not so comfortable. All this says to a multi-million audience “We are just like you, we are normal people, we are just like the people from the center of Sofia.
Host: So, you think that this scandal makes the royal family more relatable?
Host: Okay, but couldn't this be done in a less humiliating way?
Maxim: It wouldn't have been as popular, and with such a good storyline. Since you work here with very experienced writers, you know how important it is to set up a good script to have a show effect. One suffers, other cries, one is a victim etc. That's the reason I say it has a Bollywood element – I see this in America for the first time, with so many tearful outpourings. After all, they are two brothers who fought with each other. This happens in 99% of families with two children - they fight, they pick at each other. And suddenly this turns out to be a global story.
Host: However, there were much more serious accusations, like racism.
Maxim: Yes, that's a phrase that's been around since the Oprah Winfrey interview 2 years ago, 2 and a half, maybe. This is a phrase they have “interpreted” to themselves - a phrase of the Queen, God bless her. They interpreted it as racism. I don't believe it. There is no way a member of the royal family would be racist. There are remarks about Camilla, the King's wife. There are all sorts of remarks, however, in the book I counted, up to where I was reading, more than 110 times it is said how good Prince Charles is. How Charles called Harry “my son”, “my treasure”, “the best boy” etc. You close the book and you're like “King Charles III is a very good man, and what a cool guy Harry is. He goes around, talks, and reveals secrets. He's a superstar” It's all positive. Yes, there are a lot of people who blame Harry. This saga is going to be continued with Meghan. I expect her to come out with a book too.
Host: She hasn’t opened her mouth yet.
Maxim: Surely there will be a new book which, perhaps, will be called “Next to Spare” or something like that - or “Spare spare”.
Maxim: Then after that, Harry will probably write something again. This will go on for years. All these people who have been saying “The monarchy is obsolete, it is unnecessary” - I just want to add that some of these statements are true about the monarchy right now, if it doesn't evolve and if it doesn't modernize. For all these people to say, “These are good people, they're not snobby or arrogant, they are just like us”. The dramas that Harry describes are quite childish. It is not something extraordinary, it happens in every family.
Host: Is this story going to have a happy ending? After all the things that have been said by Harry, because for now, the royal family is quiet. Is it possible? Charles hasn't said anything. But what can he say? He is King, of course, he has many other things to worry about.
Maxim: What can he say? “They had a fight once and Harry fell and cut himself on the dog bowl.
Host: But is it possible, after all the harsh words that have been said, that they will forgive each other at some point and have a happy ending?
Maxim: Yeah, there will be a happy ending for sure. It depends on the Brazilian element in the story - how long is it going to last. At the end of the day, part of this whole campaign, no matter how much they bash Harry, and how much they don't like Meghan, is for all these readers to say, “King Charles III is a very good man. Oh, how he loves his children, how he cared for them when their mother died. How he has spoiled them and how many opportunities he has given them”. I think, in the end, the people, the readers, especially those in the UK, will be left with positive feelings towards both Harry and Charles. The whole royal court will become a little bit closer to the people, a little bit more open and accessible.
Host: How do you explain this massive interest in what is going on in the royal family right now? Is it just because of people's tendency to be nosy about other people's business, or does it have more to do with the interest in the life of the royals?
Maxim: Voyeurism is part of the human nature. The more social media is developing, the more communications are developing, the more the feeling of being a voyeur and sticking your noes up in everyone’s business grows. The interest is driven mainly by the fact that there is a new king. The new king is unpredictable. Nothing was really known about him; he never really gave interviews.
Host: Yes, he was a private person.
Maxim: I understand Harry and Meghan here. They said the hardest thing for them is living surrounded by a bunch of tabloids attacking them from all sides. However, the British tabloids have been like that since forever, no surprise at all. I think that the tabloids themselves suddenly saw great opportunity for content for the readers. Not only them but the publishers and the TV producers also. And everyone has played their cards very well so far. In fact, I think the people in Buckingham are playing their cards well too. They're saying, “Let him talk.” After all Harry's not saying bad things, he hasn't revealed any big secrets. Yeah, they did have a fight once and he fell down on the ground, but his daddy helped him get up and said “You're my good boy.” It's not that big of a drama and there is too much hate from the Bulgarian side and from the Bulgarian social media…
Host: We, Bulgarians, always have a strong opinion about everything.
Maxim: I open Facebook and Instagram and suddenly everyone's a royal court specialist. You’ve seen it too, I suppose.
Host: It’s like everyone personally knows their relationship.
Host: It’s a money-making machine.
Maxim: Not just money-making one. It's a machine for building image. He's going to make a lot of money. Maybe 100 million, of which he'll probably give 50 million in taxes and another 10-15-20 million to all the people around him. He'll be left with a few million. I've been in this business for 30 years - the conclusion for me is that the whole situation is positive for both sides.
Host: There are many monarchies in Europe. Norway is a monarchy, Sweden is, the Netherlands is, Belgium... Why is the interest focused only on the British royal family? You can ask anything about what's going on in the Norwegian royal court… everything is calm there, everything is normal, nobody is bothering them. Maybe even the tabloids don't harass them.
Maxim: Great Britain is an imperial power. It is a giant country with traditions. It is the country that created the United States, that created Australia with its people, its traditions, its way of governing. They have many colonies around the world. The Queen was the longest reigning monarch in the world, except for one African monarch. The Queen was able to build a stable institution such as the British royal dynasty, the interest there is much larger. Take Spain for example - their king abdicated, something unheard of until then, so he could give the throne to his son. Belgium - King Albert II abdicated for the same reason. These are monarchies that are very flexible. These are relatively small countries, which adapt to their people. They can't live somewhere in the high heavens and have everybody look at them like they are God. It's quite the opposite in the UK. Take Diana’s story - the whole melodrama of how they got married, but she wasn't of noble birth, but Charles liked her and they loved each other, but they got divorced...
Host: They became part of pop culture.
Maxim: Yes, all this time the royal family has been supporting pop culture, pop music. All those people - Paul McCartney, Elton John, of course, David Bowie, God bless him, Mick Jagger. They all have royal titles. It's an undeniable part of Britain. However, the monarchy is going, sooner or later, to be abolished. That type of government will go.
Host: There were rumors like this after World War II, but some monarchies still survived.
Maxim: They survived, but they did radically change. Monarchies will go away. Britain will be the last one to go.
Host: Has there been any change in the British royal court since Charles took the crown?
Maxim: Well yes of course, Harry's book, the interviews and the Netflix documentary that's streaming.
Host: Apart from Harry's book?
Maxim: I haven't noticed. From time to time, I keep in touch with friends of mine who are around Charles, and I make attempts to convince him to pay attention to Bulgaria. It is unlikely that he will, but one day in this studio I may be able to share some good news regarding the royal court.
Host: This is very interesting.
Maxim: From the outside no change is visible, which makes sense. Charles lived his life like a king all these years. He is 70 years old. He has lived as an heir to the throne, he has been preparing his whole life for this moment. Apart from his very rare appearances and the fact that he distanced himself from all the charities that the heir to the throne took over. There has been no visible change, and there probably won't be. For now, let's see how Harry and Meghan’s saga plays out.
Host: Will Charles forever remain in the shadow of his famous mother Elizabeth?
Maxim: No. There are no people who are that unforgettable. Personally, I think he will try to modernize the British monarchy and make it more open. In my opinion, and this is not at all some imaginary theory, that even the Harry project is part of this modernization that shows "We are normal people like you. We fight, we divorce, and we'd be very happy to rule you because we know how." Certainly, this year when he becomes officially king, I bet you that Harry and Meghan will be invited to the coronation, although there are plenty of rumors that they won’t do it, that they hate them...but why not invite them? They have done them nothing but good for them. All this fuss is good for the monarchy. Good for the young family too. Let them love each other in Los Angeles. I don't see much drama other than the interest of finding out what happened in the royal family. How come all of a sudden they're fighting, hitting, shoving etc.?
Host: You said you were trying to draw King Charles' attention to Bulgaria. Why is this important for our country?
Maxim: It is important for investment, business, and the self-confidence of people in Bulgaria. I had the same arguments 20 years ago when I went to invite Prince Charles to come to Bulgaria and he came. We had a very long conversation with him, and I was telling him about Bulgaria and about the king, who was prime minister at the time, and how important it was for him to come. After two weeks the British Ambassador, Ian Suter, called me and said "Do you want to drink tea at the embassy? Right now." I went there. He took me by the hand and led me out into the garden and said, "They're listening here, I want to tell you something in the garden" and he stopped and said, "He's coming". I couldn't understand who he was talking about because I didn't believe it. I said "Who?", he said, "His Majesty". There are no impossible things. I'm sorry I couldn't make it, and I have a big folder of correspondence with his mother, her private secretary and all the people around her. I'm sorry she couldn't come to Bulgaria. I was there in Poland when she arrived, and it was a national holiday. In Warsaw everything was closed, the streets were full of people. That raises the national self-esteem. But, you know, it also brings Bulgaria into the media spotlight.
Host: That’s right.
Maxim: After 2-3 years, after Prince Charles came here, a British investor came to me. He left in Bulgaria somewhere around 30-40 million dollars or pounds. We were finishing the conversation and I asked him "Why Bulgaria?". He said, "I saw Prince Charles on TV praising Bulgaria". I remember then Prince Charles came along with a plane of journalists. There are between 30 and 35 thousand Brits in Bulgaria right now who have property here. This is a consequence of the big fuss that was made about when Prince Charles came here in 2003.
Host: They found out that such a nice country exists.
Maxim: Yes, because all these journalists were coming up and saying "Oh, what a nice and cheap country". A few years ago, I was in Vidin. There was a match in the evening in some pub and I went in to watch it, eat two kebabs, drink a beer. A guy came up to me and asked, "Can I?" in English, I said "Yes, sit down" and asked him "What are you doing here?". He said "I'm from England and I know that Bulgaria is very nice and very cheap. I arrived in Sofia yesterday, took a taxi and came to Vidin. Just hours ago, I bought a house on the Danube, and I am very happy". Can you imagine? That can't happen anywhere with anybody else. Or a Bulgarian going to England by plane to buy a house? No way. That puts Bulgaria on the map of Europe. It's important for people to come here and we go there. I was in America for 3 weeks. Yesterday, I came home and found a big difference in how Bulgaria is recognized.
Host: What is the difference?
Maxim: When you mention Bulgaria in Los Angeles or Vegas and they say "Oh, we know where Bulgaria is". Only 10-15 years ago there were questioning looks. Back then I had sentences ready and I would say "North of Greece, north of Turkey".
Host: Now they know.
Maxim: Now more people know. Of course, communications are different. I still think that if a British member of the royal family comes to Bulgaria, it will be good for the country. If the King of Belgium or the King of Spain came, that would also be great. Bulgaria should have a lot of international relations because it is not open to the world yet, it is still closed. We all know what a mess the politicians are here. People still come and say, "Should we leave our money here, should we invest?" and so we have to overcome that. And the whole story about the euro, which, we absolutely have to make our own currency in order to become real members of Europe and the European business.
Host: Absolutely. I don’t understand why it is still a question.
Maxim: When it happens, better times will come. I know we are all very let down and we are all watching the news on TV and saying "Why are these people fighting? Who are these fools?" Political party bosses can't get along. One election, second election, third election. However, better times will come. Bulgaria being better represented abroad is one of the reasons that these times will come faster.
Host: Let's hope so. Thanks for this interview, Maxim Behar!
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