Tuesday 20 February 2018

Playful Harry could have the last laugh

Sarah Caden

As in many families, the die was cast between these brothers at birth. One's position in the family dictates a great deal about character, with eldest children tending to feel more responsible, more protective and more bossy, in general, but when one is born first and therefore born to be king, well, it surely adds a little extra burden of duty.

And, almost without a slip-up, William has shouldered that burden. He always seemed comfortable as Diana's shadow, her little man when daddy was not prepared to be a proper partner, while Harry was an impish little boy, cheeky-faced, giggling, the one who made their mother laugh, rather than made her feel better. From the start, Harry's was the easier role and, to date, he's rarely shown any desire to assume more of the serious stuff.

While his devil-may-care attitude has got Harry in trouble over the years, it really hasn't mattered much. He wore a swastika armband to a friend's fancy-dress party; was caught on video calling an army colleague a "Paki"; he confessed to smoking cannabis on the grounds of Highgrove; and was photographed swigging from a vodka bottle with the England rugby team after they won the World Cup in 2003. The antics, perhaps, of the young and foolish, for which Harry has been largely forgiven, but given he has no pressure upon him to cop on, one has to wonder if he will simply continue in this vein of being borderline boorish. Or, worse, that when he calms down, he simply morphs into Air Miles Andy, that other "spare" to the "heir", for whom public affection has waned as he has aged aimlessly on the people's payroll.

What might save Harry from such a fate, however, is the compassion, kindness and edge of relative ordinariness instilled in him by his late mother. When visiting children, in particular, you see Diana's influence on him, his ability to make people relax around him, to laugh and to feel important in his eyes, which is a rare skill, whether you're exceptionally privileged or not. And he can be funny, which is a wonder among the Windsors; recently, Harry was photographed doing an impression of his father, just to make some children laugh, and in the same video clip where he called his friend a Paki, the prince also made a mock phone call to the queen, signing off with, "Send my love to the corgis and grandpa. God bless you."

There is a heart in Harry, a warm heart that attracted him to on-off girlfriend Chelsy Davy, a far more racy and fun girlfriend than William could ever have, and that endears him to the public, who will forgive him his flaws and failings, so long as he makes them smile. And as roles in life go, it seems to most people no great encumbrance to simply be a nice guy. It may not be the most fulfilling role in the world, and it may, in time, grow dull as his party-loving pals grow up and get serious, but for now, William is the adult, while Harry -- who will share accommodation with the happy couple -- gets to play the prince. And play and play and play.

Sunday Indo Living

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