Prince Harry And The Power Of The Beard


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Prince Harry has detailed how he and his brother fell out about how groomed the groom should be at his wedding – particularly over his beard.

Speaking to ITV about his memoir, he said the stubble felt “like a shield to my anxiety” and “the new Harry”.

Some online criticism suggests beards shouldn’t make or break a brotherhood but it’s something others relate to.

Tom Ellis from Movember says facial hair can be a huge part of someone’s identity and shaving is a sacrifice.

“How you present yourself to the world is a huge part of your self-esteem and your identity and it’s also hugely personal to you,” he tells BBC Newsbeat.

“I think that would certainly be the case for someone like Harry, who has the eyes of the world media on him at all times.”

Speaking to ITV’s Tom Bradby ahead of the publication of his memoir Spare, Prince Harry detailed how he had sought permission from the Queen to keep his beard on his wedding day in 2018.

The Armed Forces had strict rules around facial hair while in uniform, however the duke told ITV while the Queen, who was commander in chief of the military, had been amenable to the beard, his brother, Prince William, was not.

He claims the now Prince of Wales ordered him to shave it off after a week-long argument. However, the beard stayed in place.

Harry told Bradby he didn’t think the now Duchess of Sussex would have recognised him clean-shaven and he “would feel very, very different without my beard”.

“That’s hard for people to understand who’ve never grown a beard but hopefully those beard people out there will go, ‘yeah, I get that, I can understand’.”

Tom says he can “completely relate” after something similar happened to him – he was asked to shave his own beard for a family wedding.

“I look back at the photos of it, and I don’t particularly like how I look,” he says. “It’s not really me.

“When I’m without a beard, it’s a really big part of my identity and I find that is really missing when I’m clean-shaven.”

Adam Mallaby works with youth mental health charity Beyond and also relates to Prince Harry.

“It’s almost like a bit of a comfort blanket, a bit of a safety net,” he says.

“He specifically said it was a shield, rather than a mask and I think it’s really important, that distinction that he’s not using it to hide behind anything.”

Like Tom, Adam, who has also dealt with depression and anxiety, has his own experience of unwillingly shaving his beard after a trimmer malfunction left him with no other option.

“I was so much more self-conscious,” he says, “thinking ‘oh my god, I look like a baby, what are people going to think?’

“I think in those times where I’m feeling really anxious, I would have wanted that as my little comfort and my safety net.”

Curtis, 22, is a barber in Birmingham and says he can also relate to Harry’s desire to keep his beard.

“It’s such a big part because everyone’s looking at you, everyone sees it,” he says.

“It’s kind of like how make-up [can be] for girls, a beard is make-up for gents so I can understand why it would be such a big thing to keep for such a big occasion.”

If he was asked, or told, to shave his own beard, he says he would “hate it” – “I can’t grow much as it is,” he says, “but the little I’ve got, I need to keep.”

The charity Movember, where Tom works, raises money for men’s mental and physical health by asking people to go clean shaven in November and grow back a moustache.

It’s enough of a challenge that people are willing to sponsor it, he says, and the charity has raised thousands for good causes.

Although Harry didn’t detail the cause of his anxiety, Tom says body image can often be a reason why men feel protective over their beards.

“Whatever your gender, what you look like, and how you present yourself to the world, is a huge part of your self esteem and your identity,” he says.

Regardless of the cause of his anxiety, Adam says seeing the Duke speak so openly about his mental health was massively positive.

“For someone who is so high profile like Prince Harry to come out and speak so openly. I think it really shows that no one’s untouched and immune to facing problems with their mental health,” he adds.

If you’ve been affected by the issues raised in this article, help and support is available via BBC Action Line.

Follow Newsbeat on Twitter and YouTube.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.

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Prince Harry And The Power Of The Beard

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