I can’t quite find the origin of the phrase “the Heir and the Spare”, but it is one which defines the primary responsibility of heirs, not only to the Throne, but to important titles of aristocracy. In times when survival into adulthood was by no means guaranteed, it was in fact vital.
Up until the birth of his nephew George in 2013, Harry was ‘the Spare’, and to an extent constrained in what he could openly do and say. However, with the succession now assured, he was liberated to an extent. He had always chafed under the restrictions of his former position, as he clearly held personal and political views which he wanted to express and act upon in ways not considered proper for a potential King.
It also left him free to exercise greater choice as to who he married. William had been lucky in finding Kate Middleton, who is as much an English Rose as his mother was, but as tough as old boots as well. In marrying Meghan Markle, however, Harry introduced a totally different dynamic. As a mixed-race woman, Meghan had made her way in what most acknowledge as one of the most sexist and racist industries around. It has left her with a blend of outspokenness, toughness and vulnerability which does not sit well with the expected demeanour of British Royalty. Harry himself has a similar make-up, a fact which has become increasingly clear since he left the Army, and he is no longer trying to mask it under the cheeky chappie, class clown persona he once cultivated.
The step back may have a lot to do with protecting themselves from the forces that destroyed Harrys’ mother. But I suspect it also has a good deal to do with the freedom to follow an agenda, both political and personal, that Senior Royals aren’t really supposed to!