Prince Harry Will Be Remembered for His Mistakes, Not His Good Deeds, Writes Royal Biographer Andrew Morton (EXCLUSIVE)
When the Queen agreed to a display of the priceless Crown jewels to mark her Diamond Jubilee, she wasn't expecting her grandson, Prince Harry, to make an exhibition of his own in Las Vegas.
He did precisely that, showing off his, it must be said, fit body to the world as he cavorted with a naked party girl in a luxury suite in Sin City. As Californian admirer Carolyn May said: "Nice buns and legs."
That was a common reaction from the Colonies and beyond.
However, As Harry flew into London to face the music for showing up his country in a nude romp with an equally naked party girl, the reaction from Buckingham Palace was rather less enthusiastic.
"He’s made a real balls up this time," said one courtier, with a heavy trace of irony.
Even Scotland Yard security chiefs competed for a Gold medal for one-liners. "The girls surrounding him were wearing so little, they couldn’t have been a threat to the heir to the throne," said one. "It would have been difficult to conceal a weapon."
Yet, just a week ago, Harry was impersonating the Queen.
Not the James Bond Queen of the Olympic opening ceremony, but the traditional po-faced Queen who never smiles but turns up when asked. He represented her at the closing ceremony of arguably the friendliest, most-inclusive Olympics in history. It was so exhausting impersonating Her Maj that he had, according to supportive friends, to fly to the Sin City to "let off steam."
Prince Harry and his pals have believed the hype about Vegas. For a man, now 27, who has been in the paparazzi lens for most of his life, it showed remarkable credulity to think that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
No it doesn’t. You and your brother had their phones tapped by a Sunday tabloid newspaper. The man who did it went to jail. When you were barely able to stand, a paparazzi photographer took a snap of your having a pee against a hedge. In other countries it is called pedophilia; in Britain it is a front-page scoop.
The kid didn’t learn from experiences that would have left most of us hiding under a rock. When he was 17, he admitted to smoking pot and underage drinking. Prince Charles wrung his hands in despair. His aides sent Harry off to visit a drug treatment centre. A couple of years later, he got into a drunken scuffle with a photographer.
But that was no contest with the time he was pictured at a fancy dress party smoking and drinking while wearing a Nazi Afrika Korps uniform, complete with a red swastika armband, in 2006. Or when, in 2009, Prince Harry was forced to apologise for using offensive language to describe a member of his army platoon after video footage emerged.
Whatever his shortcomings as a platoon leader, his actions as a front-line soldier in Afghanistan have given him much latitude, as is fact that he has carried the charity torch first lit by his much loved mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, who died 15 years ago this month.
Since the incident of Harry playing naked bar billiards in his executive suite of the MGM Grand, in Vegas, his friends have come out of hiding to defend him -– a clear sign that his naked buttocks is in the firing line.
The father of one of Prince Harry's closest friends told the BBC that the prince was "a very easy target" for the press.
Alex van Straubenzee, whose son Thomas has known the prince since childhood, said that "more than anything [Harry] is a British soldier."
"He has a very, very good qualification in the job he does for the Army and I think this is what people will look at," he said.
Sorry Alex, it isn’t. Just look at Prince Charles. Whatever he achieves, be it as an organic farmer, architect or environmentalist, he will always be remembered as the guy who cheated on the fairytale princess, aka Princess Diana.
For Buckingham Palace, Harry presents a more difficult problem. Surely, as a child of the Facebook age, he should have been aware that iPhones equal embarrassing photos. This is our world. It is certainly Harry’s.
For a giddy few alcohol-fueled minutes he might have thought he was in a sequel to The Hangover.
Actually, he was in an as yet-unmade sequel to Dumb and Dumber. A prince, naked billiards, nude party girls all on film. You don’t get much dumber than that.