YEARS ago, at another newspaper, my colleagues and I were discussing our families.

One woman made a comment that appalled me. She said she had two daughters, aged 12 and 10, and a son aged six, and added: “He’s my favourite.”

Perhaps many parents do prefer one child to another. Maybe they don’t admit it to themselves. But I would have thought they shouldn’t admit to people outside their family, and never to the children themselves.

It would be terribly undermining to a child’s self-confidence to hear that.

I never much liked the woman who said it afterwards.

I’m sure all good parents try to be balanced and fair to all their children, and not show any favouritism, whether or not they have a favourite.

Yet there is one family in this country were favouritism is not only tolerated but institutionalised – the Windsors of central London.

I’ve always argued that the monarchy should be abolished not just because of the amount they cost.

It’s also because of the psychological harm that it does to their members. And Prince Harry has suffered that harm more than most.

A YouGov poll last week, found, bewilderingly, that most Brits over the age of 65 dislike the Sussexes more than they dislike the disgraced Prince Andrew.

And there is a clear age-related dividing line between those who sympathise with the Sussexes and those who don’t – with younger people tending to be on their side.

It’s rather like Brexit in that respect.

And just like Brexit, the argument is going to rumble on endlessly.

As a middle-aged man I find myself siding with younger people on both these questions. Harry may be rich but he’s had a very tough time, and he can’t be blamed for saying so.

Consider growing up knowing that his taller, better-looking and more highly educated brother is the special one, the king-to-be, and you’re “the spare”.

There’s been speculation that Harry is in fact the son of Diana’s lover James Hewitt, and that accounts for his red hair. Even Charles joked that he might not be Harry’s real dad. How did that make him feel?

And when Charles told the boys that their mother had died, they didn’t receive a hug or even eye contact from him.

Then, aged 12, he had to parade publicly behind his mother’s coffin.

But the Windsors are a decidedly strange family. They spend most of their childhood being cared for by nannies. Prince Philip missed all of Charles’s first five birthdays.

Charles had to bow to his mother when he left a room, while servants had to exit backwards, without turning their backs on her.

At mealtimes everyone had to stop eating when the Queen did, even if they hadn’t finished.

This bowing and scraping is totally alien to Americans. The USA has massive inequalities, but the idea of “meritocracy” – getting on because you’re talented or hard-working – is ingrained in their culture.

The strict pecking order within the royal family makes no sense to them.

So how was Harry’s American wife ever going to fit in?

The rigid hierarchy dictated that Meghan had to curtsey to Kate whenever she saw her. She was never going to take part in the Boxing Day shoot because – like most British people – she disapproves of killing wild animals for fun.

And she’s always taken an interest in social issues. When she was 11 she wrote to Procter & Gamble, complaining that the strapline on one of their ads for washing-up liquid was sexist.

It stated: “Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans.” After her letter they changed “women” to “people”.

Years later she said: “It’s time to focus less on glass slippers and more on glass ceilings.”

But royal wives are supposed to stand behind their husbands silently, devoid of opinions or anything interesting to say, just like Kate.

And so Meghan is subjected to vitriolic abuse for being herself and happening to be mixed race, not just from Piers Morgan and Jeremy Clarkson.

When their son Archie was born, Danny Baker tweeted a picture of a couple emerging from a hospital, each holding the hand of a chimpanzee. The public reaction made him delete it soon afterwards.

There are those who think that Meghan lured Harry away from his family and his duty. But in an interview he gave long before he or anyone else had heard of Meghan, he admitted that he wanted out of “the firm”, as the family call it.

Given what he and his wife have been put through, I don’t blame him in the slightest.