YOU know what? Harry has done us all a favour. Forget the “who did what to whom when” stuff; what matters is that he has exposed his family for the dysfunctional oddities they are. For too long the Windsor clan has exerted an inexplicable hold over the public imagination; people have been encouraged to believe 20 impossible things before breakfast; not least that a hereditary monarchy has any rational place in the 21st century.

The life and death of the late Queen gave the institution cover for some of the more egregious behaviour of her ­minor ­relatives. The allegedly favourite son, ­forever ­embedded in the Epstein scandal, and, as the Maitlis interview brilliantly ­underlined, a total stranger to self-awareness. All but one of the Queen’s children suffered ­divorce or are on their second spouse.

Or both.

Her sister, that generation’s spare, whose sexploits became the stuff of ­legend, but mainly in the European media, since in those days the UK tabloids took a ­self-­denying ordinance. No more. Instead, they have created an implausible goddess of Kate, and an implausible villainess of Meghan. Yesterday, the cheerleader of the Hate Meghan tabloid division pronounced Harry the “Prince of Pettiness”, a quality which is their own stock in trade.

When Meghan was pregnant, they ­lambasted her for constantly cradling her baby bump. When Kate did the same, she was apparently epitomising how a mum-to-be should act.

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When Meghan ate avocado, she was ­apparently endangering the biosphere. When Kate did, she was demonstrating the dietary care all impending mums should copy. I know not whether these stories were planted or by whom. I do know they ­demonstrated a deep vein of hypocrisy.

They also created a climate where every and any commentator felt empowered to slag off Harry’s missus and ridicule him while they were at it. Often the criticism touched on the money they made from ­serial revelations. Then again, the royals have a long track record of monetising their status. Tours of Buck House; ­shedloads of Highgrove branded produce, endless ­licensing of commercial tat: mugs, tea ­towels, coins et al.

And let us not overlook that quaint get-out clause known as the Queen’s ­consent, perhaps now the King’s consent. It ­enables the monarch’s legal eagles to scrutinise any upcoming legislation lest it might ­impinge on the palace purse. By which ruse anything from climate change land policy to staff pay rates can be deemed disadvantageous and an opt-out invoked.

In an age of celebrity worship/curiosity, it seems the Windsors are still able to exert a profoundly unhealthy hold over a public still deemed “subjects”. Did you want to be anyone’s subject when you grew up? Did you buy into the myth that this bizarre dynasty was in any sense ­superior to your own family whom, with all their faults and stumbles the royals closely resemble?

In other regards, the comparisons come less readily. I somehow doubt your ­nearest and dearest require a nap hand of palaces, castles, London homes, country homes and holiday retreats in order to grub along. They can probably manage without round-the-clock protection.

It is often observed that the royals are at the pinnacle of the social pyramid on which the aristocracy depends. And of course, they are. But they are also the UK’s top celebrities keeping a raft of royal scribblers in business, as they sniff around for the latest bit of regal tittle -tattle.

Harry has been a godsend to them too; offering on a plate the kind of material which would otherwise have taken weeks of backstairs schmoozing or a discreet briefing from “sources close to”.

Somehow we have to be weaned off this British disease and its crippling effect on our normal critical faculties. Twice ­employers thought it a wheeze to ­dispatch me to royal nuptials. Like the state ­openings of parliament, the ­horse guards parades and other circuses ­constructed to keep the lieges ­acquiescent, ­royal ­weddings are an opportunity for the ­family to turn out in all their ­Ruritarian finery.

And a prompt to certain royal-obsessed members of the public to sleep on ­London pavements the evening before, wearing their discomfort like a badge of ­honour, fully aware that, at best, they might glimpse a few seconds of the wedding party passing.

I talked to many pavement ­dwellers; they were unanimous that it was a ­privilege to be present at another bout of full-scale pageantry. They wore and waved their Union Jacks. Doubtless, they purchased all kinds of “regal” ­paraphernalia, such as I found in my late in-laws’ ­“display cabinet”!

Pageantry is often invoked as the ­reason we need to keep the royals. ­Something we do “so well”. Something the rest of the world envies. But here’s the thing; if watching parades of young people in full military garb trotting around London astride gleaming horses is your thing, it can actually happen without any royals at all.

And, as our annual Military Tattoo demonstrates, there’s no shortage of ­other countries who can strut their ­pageantry stuff just as impressively.

From my perspective, the current royal family is merely celebrity culture ­written over large; a bunch of very ­ordinary mortals on whom improbable status has been conferred. We would not only do ourselves a favour if Scotland ­becomes a republic, but, oddly, also rescue the ­Windsors from their wholly ­ unnatural lifestyle.

Let King Charles slip into not-so-early retirement. Dismantle all the ­unnecessary paraphernalia surrounding his ­family. Give them a chance to raise normal ­families not groomed to turn out as little boy kings in the making.

One of the things the much-maligned Netflix documentaries underlined was that it was possible to ­dismantle most of the indoctrination; most of the ­mythology. I’m not daft enough to ­pretend that the spare heir living in ­luxury among ­California’s rich and glamorous set ­qualifies as normal life.

BUT what did come over quite ­powerfully was a family at ease with ­itself. A ­couple raising two kids with the security of ­non-negotiable parental love, without the burden of expectation in terms of ­“appropriate” behaviour.

Imagine, if you will, a lifestyle where your daily and weekly life are marked out in advance. Where you spend all of your “working” days making meaningless small talk to complete strangers, never without the smell of fresh paint ­lingering in the background. Imagine the kind of suited and booted imagery you are obliged to sell.

Then contrast all that involuntary ­structure with the chance to walk along a beach in your bare feet chasing a ­squealing son who will be liberated in a way your brother’s children can never truly know.

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There are downsides to that lifestyle too; an inclination to hook up with ­expensive therapists and thereafter spout some of their practised gobbledegook. (I’d love to know what serious UK therapists think of their Californian cousins.) And there’s also, as there was in your previous life, the suspicion that some new friends are around and about because of who you are and who you were. Were I in their shoes, I would swiftly ditch the duke and duchess stuff. As her late Majesty was alleged to have observed, you can’t be half in and half out of the royal family.

They’re not poor or ever likely to be. By all accounts, they’re as popular in the US as they are reviled in sections of the UK.

So go for it guys. You have nothing to lose but what’s left of your chains.

As for your pleas for a reconciliation, right now that seems on par with ­Scotland lifting the World Cup. And ­superfan that I am, the breath is not being held!