Prince Harry nude 'scandal' is no scandal at all
You just knew there were going to be pictures.
You don’t mix Prince Harry, bikini-clad girls, alcohol, pool parties, strip billiards, Las Vegas and an iPhone camera into one boiling pot of testosterone and NOT expect some fallout.
It was all pretty innocent fun until TMZ.com published a couple of pictures of the 27-year-old bachelor royal in his birthday suit on Wednesday. You could almost hear the clenching of jaws and butts in Buckingham Palace, bracing for the outrage.
Hardly. If anything, Prince Harry has been given the old nudge and a wink from the majority of his countrymen -- even the British press, who are feeling somewhat constrained under pressure by Buckingham Palace.
Although pictures from the romp in his Vegas suite appeared in various forms around the web, they did not show up on any British news websites. Word is the Palace acted quickly to warn publishers that they would appeal to the UK's Press Complaints Commission, whose code of ethics states that it is "unacceptable" to photograph people in private places without their consent.
Already under pressure in the wake of the Leveson inquiry into the News of the World phone hacking scandal, the British press lamented their postion in the post-inquiry world while giving Harry plenty of ink in other ways.
Here’s a bit from Dan Hodges in the Guardian:
"... I’m sorry, I just can’t get upset about it. Actually, if I’m really honest my initial reaction was one of sneaking admiration: “What a lad. That’s exactly how I want my princes to be behaving,” I thought to myself.
Of course I should really know better. And so should Prince Harry. After all, the guy is 27 years old. He enjoys enormous privileges and a position of significant responsibility.
But who am I kidding. When I was 27, that’s exactly the sort of thing I was up to. Well, it’s the sort of thing I would have been up to, if I could have used the chat-up line “I’m third in line to the British throne.”
The females in the journalistic fraternity were equally admiring … here’s Victoria Murphy in the Mirror:
“The picture of all pictures. Prince Harry standing naked desperately covering his crown jewels.
Cue uproar about how the party prince has brought shame on the royal family, how his behaviour is "disgraceful" and how he shouldn't be allowed to cavort around indulging in "debauched" late night games of strip billiards.
Oh, come on.
Isn't this exactly why we all love him?
Prince Harry has won the public's affections because of his fun-loving, go-for-it attitude. We love him because of it, not in spite of it.
His antics in Vegas haven't hurt anyone. He hasn't been over there having punch-ups, taking drugs or even saying nasty things about anyone.
He's just been joining in, doing what all his mates are doing (but lucky for them no-one is interesting in seeing them naked) and having a good time.”
Tom Chivers in the Telegraph struck a cautionary note to the prince's supporters:
"It's absolutely fine to be going out and getting leathered at 27. It's absolutely fine to be playing naked billiards or whatever. But by 27, if you're a member of the Royal family, you really should have worked out that you're really going to have to do it behind closed doors."
And what will the Palace think? So far, it has been mum, aside from confirming that the nude male in question is indeed Harry (presuming that the positive ID came from his only piece of clothing -- a medallion around his neck). There most certainly will be questions about how much (and what kind of) protection is coming from his royal protection officers.
Harry headed back to Britain on Wednesday, ready to resume his military preparations before likely deployment to Afghanistan later this year. He will face a possible dressing down from his military superiors for conduct unbecoming for sure, but it would be laughable for his father Charles to lecture him, given his own indiscretions.
If they are wise, the Palace will remain tight-lipped, at least publically. This will only add to Harry’s popularity.
Piers Morgan, former Brit tabloid man and now CNN's prime-time TV offering, couldn't resist tweeting: "I'm shocked and disgusted by the Prince Harry party photos in Vegas. Why the hell wasn't I invited????"
Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, sees no love lost for Harry: "Of course it's stupid, but it doesn't make people dislike him -- quite the opposite. It shows that he is a guy who gets into trouble and he's the one people love to love. It could only happen to Harry -- but we love him for it."
Yes, there has been the usual “monarchy’s a waste of money” diatribes, but, coming off the high of a successful Olympics, the tolerance level for Harry is high. This is not a transgression on the level of wearing a swastika to a party (for which he apologized in 2005).
And lets not forget he has the luxury of having an older brother (right) who fits a more traditional definition of royal respectability.
It will be source of some sibling ribbing that while Harry was splashing about in America's Sin City, Prince William was dutifully rescuing a Canadian from the cliffs of Wales.
Alex van Straubenzee, whose son Thomas is a longtime Harry pal, told the BBC that Harry’s royal value far outweighs any bare-bottomed behaviour.
"I know him to be a thoroughly normal, fun-loving but responsible and caring young man and I should think any young man that is caught on camera who is a celebrity of some type is easy meat regardless of whether it is true or not," van Straubenzee said. "If you're in the public eye as he and his brother are, then of course you're going to be worried about adverse publicity but there's so much good that he does that it's the sort of thing that people will know them for rather than a bit of high-jinks or fun when they're on holiday."
We’ll leave the last words to the masses from reader comments:
- “Harry does his best to change the American perception of British men as pasty, flabby, impotent homosexuals. What was he thinking ?!”
- “I very much doubt the Queen will care (Navy wife, Navy mother, will have seen it all) Prince Phillip will probably ask why he wasn't invited and Charles will presumably be happy that his sons seem to have grown up to be relatively well adjusted, odds stacked against them though they were.”
- “It all just adds weight to the republican argument so we can get rid of these freeloaders.”
- “Ah for god sake he's no different to any other lad his age. So what if he was playing strip billiards or whatever it was. It was in his own time n of no ones business. To be honest the person who leaked the photos should be looked down upon n prosecuted for breaching someone's personal space.”
- “If he was my son, or brother, I would be proud of him. Especially knowing that he puts his life on the line for our freedoms. He deserves his time of relaxation & fun. What should he be doing? Sitting in a rocking chair, looking out the window of Windsor castle?”
- “I’ll admit when I saw the headline ‘prince Harry hanging out in Vegas’ I was expecting a more mundane picture.”
- “Britain, be proud of William & Harry. We Yank's are, and they're not even US citizen's. So......if you don't want them, than send them over here to live, as we American's would be proud to have them.”