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Roya Nikkhah and Cole Moreton: The three hidden faces who mould the new royals

Prince Harry running with Usain Bolt in Kingston, and hugging the Jamaican prime minister into a swoon. Prince William flying to the Falklands to strengthen the resolve of the islanders. The Duchess of Cambridge wowing America on her first tour as a royal. These have been some of the successes in a remarkably positive year for Britain's House of Windsor, which has seen its new generation of Royals emerge as confident, charming and hugely popular.

Such scenes would not have been imaginable only five years ago, when Harry was seen as a playboy, William was hidden away in the armed forces, and Kate Middleton was helping out with her family's party business.

The transformation has been a triumph for a small group of advisers, who have shaped the way the new royals have presented themselves. Guiding Harry, William and Kate through the minefield of etiquette and diplomacy have been three key figures, including an SAS commander, a former ambassador to the US and a very modern press secretary.

Arranging the details of Harry's first solo tour -- around the Caribbean to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee -- Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, David Manning and Miguel Head listened to his wish to "pay personal tribute to his grandmother, but also to spend time wherever possible with young people". They knew he would "bring his own brand of enthusiasm and energy" to the trip.

They visited the Caribbean in January to prepare for a tour chosen for him by the queen. And they helped the fun-loving Harry avoid all the pitfalls of a part of the world where a taste for drinking and dancing might be easily indulged. "Harry on tour is similar to how an extensive business operates," said one aide. "He is the frontman, with a team of support."

Aides suggest that he had "an element of nervousness" before the trip, but his easy-going charm and relaxed, unstuffy approach came through.

Faced with a tricky meeting with Portia Simpson Miller, the prime minister who wants to make Jamaica a republic, he held her hand and told her she was his date for the evening -- then gave her a hug. Other leaders might have been offended and turned it into a diplomatic incident, but Mrs Simpson Miller was won over, admitting: "We are in love with him."

An informal approach will have been discussed at the briefing with which Harry begins each day on tour. What may have surprised his advisers is how far Harry took it.

Alongside Harry as he drank rum and danced with local women at a street party in Belize on the first night of the 10-day tour was David Manning, the former British ambassador to Washington, who was brought in to help Harry with foreign policy.

Accosted by what appeared to be a pantomime cow, the prince turned to him and said: "Come on, David -- I'll get in the front and you get in the back."

Just as Harry feels he can trust his advisers, their ability to relax and let him do his thing comes from knowing him well. The first of the key advisers to come on board was Mr Lowther-Pinkerton, who became private secretary to Princes William and Harry in 2005. He now also serves the Duchess in the same capacity. He has become so close to William that Mr Lowther-Pinkerton's son, Billy, was a page boy at the Royal wedding last year.

Mr Lowther-Pinkerton has a military and Royal household pedigree. After Sandhurst, he served with the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, and was Equerry to the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother from 1984 to 1986.

Far from being just a ceremonial soldier, he was an officer in the SAS, targeting drug barons in Colombia, fighting in the first Gulf war and taking part in special operations in the Balkans during the mid-Nineties.

Chosen by the Prince of Wales and the boys together, he joined the Royal household at a time when both William and Harry were preparing to go into military service.

He understands the military culture, but his calm under fire has also been useful for Kate. Despite intense interest ahead of last year's tour of North America, Mr Lowther-Pinkerton advised media that the Duchess would not be speaking publicly during the tour, because it would be "too soon".

Appearances with the queen earlier this month have seen the duchess grow in confidence. Next week, she will make her first public speech at The Treehouse, a hospice run by East Anglia Children's Hospices.

The morning after one of her first public engagements, the new Duchess of Cambridge told a courtier she knew she had a lot to learn. "This is her job now and she has approached it with the right frame of mind."

The duchess took nine months to decide which charities and patronages she would take up. "In the old days, an army of grey suits would have written up reports for her," said the courtier. "Now she can do the research herself on the internet."

She has also leant on the wisdom of the second key figure to join the team, David Manning (62), who was appointed as an adviser to William and Harry in 2009. He is seen as playing a similar role to that of General Frederick Browning, a decorated soldier who acted as adviser to the then Princess Elizabeth during the 1940s. Mr Manning served in embassies in Israel, Poland, India, Paris and Moscow before becoming an adviser to Tony Blair in before the Iraq war. He was the man the family turned to before the Royal wedding to give Kate Middleton advice.

The third adviser also joined the princes' private office in 2009. Miguel Head (33) was raised in London and went to a small public school in Essex. He joined the MoD press office in his early twenties and worked his way up. Editors agreed a media blackout to allow Prince William to serve in Afghanistan, but he had to be pulled out when foreign media gave the game away. Mr Head's performance went down well with the princes, who hired him with the help of their father's press secretary, Paddy Harverson.

Mr Head is seen as streetwise. Having come from the MoD, he understands the princes' desires to put their military careers ahead of royal duty. Being seen to do brave things has done wonders for their public image.

"While they are aware of their duties to perform for the queen, the princes also have personal and private lives, and won't be rushed to do anything they don't feel ready for," said an aide. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent