BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: In Depth: Newsmakers  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Friday, 13 September, 2002, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
The trouble with Harry
Prince Harry
Chris Jones

As Prince Harry celebrates his 18th birthday, speculation will be rife about his future role. Whatever that may be, it seems he is entering his adult years with a new maturity.
Prince Harry hasn't changed overnight. And there could still be the occasional hiccup for the tabloids to trumpet on their front pages. But another side of the fun-loving teenager is appealing for attention.

It's his mother's influence that is seen as the most significant. Instead of a lavish birthday party, he has been busy with good works: visiting hospital patients and the homeless, as well as working on schemes involving young offenders and health improvements in the developing world.

Prince Harry and US ambassador William Farish
Harry at the 11 September anniversary commemoration service
His notion of following in his mother's footsteps became a firm resolve when he was angered by the accent on the negative in the welter of documentaries, features and books that marked the fifth anniversary of her death.

He was apparently angry that people seemed to be forgetting Diana's huge contribution to charity and, particularly, how she took on "lost" causes with which other people didn't want to be associated.

The final straw was probably the perceived betrayal by Ken Wharfe, Diana's trusted royal protection officer, in a book revealing intimate details of the princess's tortured life.

Drink and drugs

Prince Charles has wholeheartedly welcomed Harry's new commitment after a year which has tested his parenting skills to the limit.

News of the World front page
Harry was exposed in January
Despite the discretion of the locals at the Rattlebone Inn, near the family home at Highgrove, Harry's under-age drinking and illegal experiments with cannabis finally became public knowledge.

Before it hit the headlines, Prince Charles had already confronted his son and taken him to a drug rehabilitation centre for a sobering talk with addicts.

Then Harry suffered another jolt when he failed two of his A/S-level exams at Eton College.

It's thought the dual commitment of working for respectable A-levels and helping worthy causes are the promises Harry has made to his father in exchange for permission to take a gap year playing polo.

Harry - 18 years
Born: Henry Charles Albert
Schools: Wetherby Prep School, Ludgrove School, Eton
Throne: third in line of succession, behind his father and elder brother
Harry, a member of the Beaufort club and the nearby Cirencester club, spent much of the summer in Gloucestershire competing in tournaments.

Major Mark McCann, chairman of the British Forces Foundation Team, who plays with the Prince, says that if he worked hard, there is no reason why Harry couldn't join the elite group of 100 professional polo players in Britain.

"He has got a great eye for the ball, he is young, he rides well and has natural talent," he says.

"Going spare"

Yet whatever Harry does, he knows only too well that he will always live in the shadow of his brother William, even though they share a bond forged by the death of their mother.

Princess Diana
Said to be more like his mother than William
Prince William's role as the future king is clearly defined, but Harry, like his late Aunt Margaret, is the "spare", as his mother called him.

And while most people note the marked resemblance between Princess Diana and William, the one the girls swoon over, Prince Charles's aide says "in reality, it is Harry who is more like his mother in many ways".

Officials at St James's Palace say that Harry, "like his mother, always sees the funny side of everything, but is lacking in confidence".

He was an outgoing little boy, but his life was understandably shattered by his mother's death.


While royal-watcher Penny Junor says William is controlled and on his guard at all times, instinctively aware of his position and pitfalls, Harry is much more relaxed, showing his feelings, saying what he thinks and trusting everyone - until recently.

Prince Harry and Mario Testino
Ever the joker, Harry grabs a shot of photographer Mario Testino
"He has always been slightly quieter and gentler," says a family friend.

Perhaps the bluntest of columnists, Victor Lewis-Smith (while sparing the reader his less generous views) says: "Harry does seem to have attained his majority in reasonable shape, considering that he's been raised by "a bunch of divorcees... philanderers, army dropouts... hypocrites and deviants..."

Penny Junor puts it another way, saying the trauma of Harry's early years must have left "deep, indelible scars".

Nothing will kill the passion for pranks and practical jokes, she says. "But there is another side to Harry, a sensitivity and vulnerability, which is only now beginning to come to light".

Most recent
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Newsmakers stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Newsmakers stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |