Prince Harry’s stint as guest editor on BBC 4’s flagship news programme did not disappoint for its variety and top-draw interview subjects; They don’t come any bigger than the erstwhile occupant of the White House, President Barack Obama and heir to the British throne, Prince Charles [Pa] who has “bored him to tears” banging on about the devastating impact of climate change. And the easy bit? Getting Obama to do his first candid interview since leaving Pennsylvania Avenue last year told us he had friends in high places and an “outsize” voice according to Obama.
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He hinted how fiancee Suits actress Meghan Markle had fared well with the in-laws at their Sandringham Christmas get-together, “running around with the kids” of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. He however let his guard down when he let slip: “She’s done an absolutely amazing job, she’s getting in there and it’s the family that I suppose she’s never had.” Now that told us volumes about Markle’s private family life after tabloid revelations she did not get along with her father, whom the prince is yet to meet.
You’d think the Obamas would be dead certs as guests at his wedding on 19 May next year but Prince Harry is coy: “I don’t know about that,” he said. “We haven’t put the invites or the guest list together. Who knows whether they are going to be invited or not. I wouldn’t want to ruin that surprise.”
A tabloid has claimed Whitehall officials have urged him not to invite the Obamas to his wedding for fear of angering incumbent Donald Trump thought to be planning a working visit to the UK early next year.
And there was some serious stuff. Obama feared the way people communicate via social media risked splintering society and leaders had to ensure the Internet did not cocoon users within their biases. [*Hint: Trump tweets avidly]
Obama cautioned social media should promote diverse views in a way that “doesn’t lead to a Balkanisation of our society”.
“All of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the internet.”
“One of the dangers of the internet is that people can have entirely different realities, they can be just cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases.”
Obama has previously warned that social media platforms can lead people to make snap judgements about complex decisions although he has refrained from criticising his successor.
He said that moving online communities offline helped people to see that many issues were not as simple as they might seem in a chatroom.
“It’s also by the way harder to be as obnoxious and cruel in person as people can be anonymously on the Internet,” he said.
Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick also featured talking about her force’s efforts to curb knife crime and moped-enabled crime.
The world heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua, another guest on the programme, has offered to be Prince Harry’s best man.
He wrote on Twitter: “Back to work this morning! Congrats on everything this year and no pressure on the R4 guest edit! P.S. Need a best man?” The Royal has recounted how he turned to boxing to get rid of his demons after struggling to come to terms with his mother Diana, Princess of Wales’ untimely death in 1997.
Prince Harry also covered the country’s most tragic event of the year, the Grenfell Tower blaze where 71 lives were lost. Abdurahman Sayed, from the Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in North Kensington, which has been helping people affected by June’s fire featured in Today’s Thought for the Day spot.
Prince Harry summed up his roller coaster experience all done without any caffeine: “I haven’t done that many interviews but it was quite fun, especially interviewing President Obama.
“It’s been a big learning curve, but also these are incredibly important topics that I think we all need to think about that need to be discussed and I’m incredibly fortunate to have a platform like this.”