Prince William’s wedding relaunched his brother’s image from drunken fool to handsome “rock star” who effortlessly hosted the palace’s wildest party ever, Tom Sykes says. Plus, photos of the world’s eligible princes.
It’s hard to believe it today, but over the past few years, Prince Harry earned a reputation as one of the least-liked individuals in Britain. He was regularly being hauled up in the court of tabloid opinion for such idiotic and over-entitled activities as dressing up as a Nazi at a fancy dress party (and allowing himself to be photographed while doing so), calling a Pakistani army colleague a “ little Paki” (and allowing himself to be videoed while doing so) and, above all, getting so mindlessly drunk at London parties that he’d come out of nightclubs swinging at photographers like a drunk gorilla.
What a difference a wedding makes. For when Prince Harry was pictured on Friday escorting the unofficial belle of the ball, Pippa Middleton, out of Westminster Abbey with a charming grin and a rumpled schoolboy hairdo, his reversal of fortune was complete. Far from being seen as a drunken lout, or a feckless, crass toff, he is now perceived instead as the raffish, slightly badass and extremely attractive younger brother of the future king, and one who played his part at Britain’s most important public event for 30 years to a tee. His best man speech at Buckingham Palace on Friday night was also faultless, with both a moving tribute to his mother, and a matey crack at his brother’s bald spot (although the fact he donned a fez hat to deliver it suggests one last lesson on the dangers of cultural stereotyping might not go amiss).
As a result, Harry is suddenly the most eligible man in London. Put bluntly, he is being looked at in a new light this weekend by all those aristocratic girls with an eye on an HRH who were passed over by William in favour of commoner Kate.
Although he is officially back together with Chelsy Davy, and the two spent the night of the wedding together, few believe that Harry and Chelsy will stay the distance. There’s various obstacles—her stripper-name, her father’s tainted millions, the multiple break-ups the couple have already endured—all of which have the well-heeled young ladies of Chelsea and the shires hopeful that the goal of becoming HRH may still be achievable.
The runners and riders for the prize include such blue-blooded beauties as the Hon Sophia Hesketh, the first girl Harry ever kissed, Victoria Von Westenholz, who has skied with Harry and the Waleses since she was young, Lady Natasha Howard, the daughter of the Earl of Suffolk and Astrid Harbord, the hard-partying daughter of millionaire publisher Charles Harbord.
Despite his new image, it seems Harry hasn’t forgotten how to party. A guest at the reception on Friday night, which went on till 3 a.m., told the News of the World: “Harry was essentially the host of the evening. He wanted to make sure everyone was having a brilliant time and he was at the forefront of it. He was acting like a rock star and making sure all the girls had a cocktail in hand and all the lads were trying the Sambuca shots. Harry was running the show and loving it. He was also getting pretty merry himself. He loves a party and this night was obviously no different. He was even jumping off the stage and dancing on window ledges. At one point he ended up on the shoulders of one of his friends with his shirt unbuttoned.”
Palace insiders are saying Friday night’s party was the wildest the palace has ever seen. Well, just wait till they get a load of Harry’s wedding. It’ll make William’s reception look like one of the queen’s garden parties.
Tom Sykes, 36, is a British writer and journalist. He was formerly nightlife reporter for the New York Post and now tries to live a largely blameless life in Ireland with his wife, two kids, three pigs, six hens, and a turkey. He is the co-author, with Detmar Blow, of Blow by Blow, a biography of Isabella Blow.