Prince Harry, Märtha Louise & Co.: Why is the burden of the second born so heavy?


Writed by - Andy Gocker
  Prince Harry, Princess Märtha Louise and Prince Joachim grew up in the shadow of their older siblings.
Prince Harry, Princess Märtha Louise and Prince Joachim grew up in the shadow of their older siblings. © dpa, imago images/Chris Emil Janßen

by Charlotte Reppenhagen

He splits opinions, lashes out at his closest family and is not above revealing the most intimate details: Prinz Harry (38) seems to be in peak chatting form through his interview and his memoirs. But what is really behind the outbreaks? Is it actually the fact that Harry spent his life in the shadow of his older brother and heir apparent Prince William (40) stands? RTL spoke to an expert – an attempt at an explanation.

There was never a way up for Prince Harry

The line of succession to the British throne is clearly regulated, as is the case in any other royal family. Even before the birth of a royal baby, it can be determined what place the child will take in the line of succession. And his status within the family and the Krone institution is also based on this. Prince William has been raised to be the future King of Britain since birth. And as he climbs up the line of succession, there's only one way for his brother, Prince Harry, who is two years his junior: down and down. With every birth of William and Princess Kates (41) Children slipped the second son of King Charles III (74) and Princess Diana († 36) further down.

This family dynamic could be one of the reasons why Prince Harry is now turning so harsh on his loved ones. Ruth Marquardt, systematic family counselor, explains it this way: 'While firstborns enjoy the undivided attention of their parents for a time and often also see them as role models, it is quite different for secondborns: They have to share the love of their parents from the beginning and are regularly compared to their older siblings in terms of external perception.”

A lot that weighs heavily, especially within the royal families. Because there the firstborn not only get more time alone with their parents, but also the throne. 'No wonder that second-borns have to struggle a lot more to be seen in their identity and that they have a special desire for autonomy,' says Marquardt. “One of our psychological engines is the human need to be seen” – and Harry has lived in his brother's shadow for far too long for his own liking.

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But: Harry is not the only one suffering from his fate. Hardly any heir to the European throne is an only child – of course not. Finally, the crown must be secured. That's why it seems that second-borns are the most likely to worry their native royal houses - even if nobody has done it to the extreme like Harry. Märtha Louise of Norway (51) made public in November 2022, to step down from their royal duties . Before that there were many negative headlines about her relationship with the shaman Durek Verrett (48) and the fact that the two sold healing crystals with the title 'royal'.

Prince Joachim (53) hits it even harder: Because the Danish royal family is small, he is not allowed to work for the crown and collect an appanage. That's why he had to look for a 'normal' job and worked for a while as an agricultural economist at Schackenborg Manor. He left this project with high debts, a personal defeat for him. Only in September 2022 did Joachim's mother announce Queen Margrethe II (82) stripping his children of their prince and princess titles . The rift that this decision drew between mother and son is said to have been mended through talks.

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But why do the supposedly second-rate members of the royal family see their position as a curse - and not as a less duty-heavy blessing? According to Ruth Marquardt, no one can understand from the outside how one would feel as a person within such an institution, how the roles were distributed and what interactions would take place. “The particular burden fewer and fewer royals want to bear these days is that of silence. Of pretending. Your own desire for recognition of your feelings is immensely important. Especially when we feel unfairly treated or unloved,' says family expert Marquardt. True to the motto 'Never complain, never explain', coined by Queen Elizabeth II († 96). And that her grandson Harry seems to trample.

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