Prince Harry runs and hugs his way to Jamaican hearts
First, he beat the world's best sprinter on the track. Then he hugged the prime minister who wants to cut her country's ties with his own grandmother, Queen Elizabeth.
Apparently not ... at least in Jamaica. The Prince kept up his light and informal approach to this royal tour on Tuesday and scored some valuable PR points along the way.
The royal's visit with Usain Bolt was a perfect way to start his Diamond Jubilee visit to Jamaica -- hamming it up with the country's most internationally known figure.
Later, it was into the lion's den -- a visit with the Jamaican prime minister Portia Simpson Miller, who wants to end the Queen's reign as Head of State over the island and even suggested this week that Britain should compensate them for the "wicked" centuries of slavery.
Given the timing of her remarks, the meeting with Harry could easily have been, at best, awkward. It was anything but. On the steps of Devon House in Kingston, the pair hugged, held hands and chatted as if they were life-long friends. The Telegraph correspondent described it as "more like a mother greeting her son than a politician greeting a visiting dignitary."
"We might not let him go," Simpson Miller joked with reporters.
All the while, a portrait of the Queen stood in the background. The PM may be serious about severing ties, but Harry and his host both scored diplomatic points for their good-natured meeting.
Simpson Miller was quick point out that she had nothing personal against the Queen. "She is so warm. We're all in love with her," she said.
Prince Harry set the tone early at the University of the West Indies, where he met -- and beat -- the world's fastest man, Usain Bolt (okay ... it might have been a false start). In a mock race, Harry's early leap from the blocks left Bolt laughing helplessly as the 27-year-old royal dashed to the finish line and threw up his arms in triumph.
Bolt, a three-time Olympic gold medallist, wasn't going to let the Prince get away without some schooling, though, and offered him a few pointers on sprinting. (Might come in handy when Harry has to outdistance the paparazzi.)
After the mock race, Harry noted the accomplishments of Jamaican track stars, offering this advice: "Don't go running off to America, because you've got talent your country needs."
"He cheated," said a smiling Bolt, who played a gracious loser, at least this time. "I said we would have a rematch in London 2012 and Harry said 'I'm busy.'"
Harry had a very full day planned in Kingston, including stops at a couple of hospitals and a state dinner hosted by the Governor-General.