Prince Harry of Wales is the younger son of Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana Princess of Wales, fourth grandchild of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, duke of Edinburgh. Enough with the formalities, because there wasn’t anything formal about Prince Harry’s visit to Las Vegas this past weekend. The rowdy royal is returning to Britain on Thursday with a lot of explaining to do about photos showing him in the buff, holding his crown jewels and cavorting with an equally nude beauty.
For the past few years, Prince Harry’s closest aides have been carefully nurturing his image as a modern, charismatic young statesman.
Until Wednesday, his transformation had exceeded expectations, as the 27 year-old was lauded following a triumphant tour of the Caribbean and a polished performance representing the Queen at the Olympic closing ceremony.
Those aides could only watch on helplessly, however, as a steady stream of photographs emerged of the prince cavorting at pool parties in Las Vegas, culminating in the publication online of two pictures depicting him naked while indulging in a game of “strip billiards.”
In the pictures, which appeared on TMZ.com Tuesday night, the 27-year-old helicopter pilot is going commando, wearing nothing more than a wrist watch and a necklace.
The shots captured the Prince of Wales putting the squeeze from behind on a nude babe, who appears to be holding a pool cue next to a pool table.
Well what does anyone expect the queen to say. “Those Americans are so uncouth,” or “Just like those Kardashians, they not only can’t keep themselves in order while in the present of royalty, they have to go and corrupt my fourth grandson.”
Perhaps the queen it not so naïve not to know that Henry simply enjoys a good time or rather a “hell of a time.”
The salacious snapshots of the playboy prince were taken by a fellow reveler’s phone cam during a Sin City game of “strip billiards.”
Buckingham Palace officials quickly moved to get publication of the photos banned in Britain, arguing to the country’s Press Complaints Commission that they were a breach of the prince’s privacy — not to say his privates.
Bernard Hogan-Howe, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, deflected any blame that might be cast on security guards traveling with Harry on his stateside vacation.
“Royal protection officers are there to protect him for security reasons; they are not there to regulate his life,” Hogan-Howe told the Telegraph of London.
The average Brit didn’t seem to blame Harry for his high jinks. “He’s a lad, for God’s sake,” Shirley Ashard, 59, told The Associated Press.
The prince had checked into a lavish private suite at the fivestar Wynn hotel toward the end of a 10-day private holiday with close friends, including his Eton contemporary Thomas (Skippy) Inskip.
The suite, costing up to $7,900 a night, has its own butler, games room and private driveway, and became his base during a raucous weekend of “full-on partying” during which he downed cocktails by the pool, befriended a group from a bachelorette party and challenged double Olympic gold medallist Ryan Lochte to a swimming contest.
A generation ago, the prince might have hoped to escape exposure. In the era of camera smartphones, Twitter and YouTube, his indiscretions quickly became public knowledge.
The most salacious images, which were sold by a party guest for an estimated $15,000, showed the prince wearing just a watch and a necklace as he embraced a young, naked woman clutching a pool cue.
Royal protection sources said they understood that the two Scotland Yard officers assigned to look after the Prince were present in the room but would intervene only if his life was at risk.
For Prince Harry, the consequences are not expected to be severe. Military sources said he would face a “rap on the knuckles” from senior officers when he returns to his base this week, while aides at St. James’s Palace dismissed his antics as those of a young man “letting off steam.”
The pictures, however, leave his advisers with something of a headache as they face questions about whether his playboy lifestyle is compatible with his role as a representative of the Royal Family.
In his younger days, the palace struggled to keep up with Prince Harry’s knack for controversy. He was a favourite of the tabloids, on one occasion pictured dressed in a Nazi uniform and on another admitting to smoking marijuana.
As photographs came thick and fast of the prince falling in and out of nightclubs and occasionally brawling with photographers, many feared that he would struggle to find his niche. More recently, the prince had undergone something of a transformation. His newfound maturity was attributed in part to his military career and in particular, the 18-month Apache helicopter training he completed in February.
Aides from all walks of his life have worked hard behind the scenes, identifying the need to balance his buoyant personality with official duties that do not curtail and stifle him.
Yesterday, though, Prince Harry returned to Britain and controversy. As senior aides hastily convened to deal with the fallout, others sought assurances that the photographs would not be reproduced in the United Kingdom, suggesting that the prince had an “expectation of privacy” in a private room. A spokesman declined to say whether the prince had paid for the holiday himself.
The antics are amusing to almost everyone, but is he in for a talking-to when he lands on British soil.