A Prince Harry lookalike has seen business boom since the release of the bombshell Netflix documentary Harry & Meghan – but has had to stop smiling.
Rhys Whittock, 39, has been impersonating the Duke of Sussex since 2017 and has even won awards for his likeness, but says that Harry's "unhappiness" means he's had to tone down the cheer at work.
Rhys says that while he is entering the busiest period of his career, he still hopes Harry will stop speaking out publicly – for the sake of his own well-being.
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"Many people seem concerned for Harry’s well-being following the memoir leaks," Rhys, originally from Cardiff, said.
"Harry, sadly, seems deeply unhappy, angry, and isolated. I have to reign in my smiles at work because Harry doesn’t smile nearly as much as he used to and people comment I smile more than him.
"The problem I see though is the constant, seemingly never-ending drip-feeding speaking out. It’s losing impact with the public with every new detail, and we’re tired of it and just want something much more positive.
"The public too have noticed Harry appears less happy. I really want to see Harry smile more and be at peace with himself. He seems to me like a person who is easily led."
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Across his six-year career, Rhys has noticed how attitudes towards the Duke have changed, and says his notable decline in popularity is down to his own actions.
"When I started this lookalike career, Prince Harry was universally loved and frequently noted as the nation’s second favourite royal, behind our much-loved Queen," Rhys said.
“He had a wicked sense of humour, seemed to have a great human touch with people – like his mother [Princess] Diana – and a very good relationship with not only his brother [Prince] William, but also with Catherine.
“They always appeared very close at public engagements so it’s been very sad to witness these previous close family relationships break down and in a very public fashion.
“I’m very supportive of Harry and will continue to be so but I’m exhausted by it all. The public is exhausted by it too."
Rhys also works with a Meghan Markle lookalike, Sarah Mhlanga, and the pair have been a duo for the last five years.
They even recreated the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's 2021 Oprah Winfrey interview for Japanese TV.
"Last year, when coronavirus restrictions ended, it was the first time we’d get to experience what type of reaction the public would have towards us since the ‘Megxit’ announcement," he explained.
"People’s opinion of them seems to be split but I wondered how that would translate to public appearances for us.
"I’ve worked with 10 different Meghan lookalikes in my career, but I most often work with Sarah Mhlanga. We get on really well and work is always fun together."
Harry's Netflix documentary isn't the only thing causing tension – the Prince's long-awaited memoir, Spare, is set for official release tomorrow (January 10) but with the book having been leaked, a fresh spate of allegations has ruffled feathers already.
Many of the claims were aimed directly at Prince William and include one allegation that the Prince of Wales had physically assaulted his younger brother during a row over Meghan Markle.
Reading an excerpt from the upcoming memoir Harry said: "It all happened so fast. So very fast.
"[William] grabbed me by the collar, ripping my necklace and he knocked me to the floor."
"I landed on the dog’s bowl which cracked under my back. The pieces cutting into me.
"I lay there for a moment, dazed, then got to my feet and told him to get out."
So far the Palace has not responded to the allegations, and is expected to stay quiet after the memoir is released.
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