09.04.12 9:36 AM ET
Re-Harry-bilitation: Prince Pokes Fun at Himself During First Post-Vegas Appearance
The traditional method of dealing with a scandal-hit individual in the Royal family – to be fair it’s the same in every upper-class British family - is to raise the antique embroidered carpet a few inches, and, with one deft movement, sweep all the offending details of the affair underneath it.
Scandals are not talked about or alluded to. Life continues exactly as normal in the hope, usually vain, that soon the whole affair will be forgotten.
But, last night, when a fully-clothed Prince Harry (he looked swell in a blue suit and pink tie) faced the world for the first time since pictures of him partying naked in Las Vegas were published around the world, it became clear that Harry intends to deal with this latest situation in his own inimitable way.
Harry spiked the guns of his critics, pre-empting them by poking fun at himself publicly before anyone else got the chance.
True, the 27-year-old prince, third-in-line to the British throne, did look a little bashful as he stepped out of a car at the reception for the WellChild charity for seriously ill children of which he is a patron, and when he stepped up to the podium to make a typically informal speech, he stared down intently at his notes on the lectern.
It can’t have been the easiest day of his life, and there had been reports earlier in the day that the Prince was extremely nervous about his first appearance back in front of the cameras. Public speaking experts would have been able to note the tell-tale signs of nervousness; the tightly clasped hands, the at-times overly-fast pace, the displaced energy expressed as he swayed from leg to leg.
There was absolutely no suggestion that Harry was about to throw away the centuries-old rule book of royal discretion, but he was.
"All of you, children, families, nurses, doctors, carers, volunteers are quite frankly too remarkable for me adequately to describe with mere words," he said, paused, looked down at his feet again and said the big line, "But never one to be shy in coming forward, I'll give it a go."
There was a moment of stunned silence in the room. Did he really just say that?
And then, would you believe it, the cheeky young man smirked, chuckled to himself and the audience, having been given permission burst into laughter themselves and then applause.
Harry continued grinning to himself, and when he finally looked up from his feet, that roguish grin plastered all over his handsome features, a thousand cameras clicked and all was forgiven as the nation’s hearts melted once again for Prince Harry Wales.
Welcome to royal rehabilitation, Harry-style.
Sources said that Harry wrote the speech himself, and certainly, that pivotal moment seemed like the true Harry.
The British writer and public relations guru Mark Borkowski, who has been following the story closely, told the Royalist that Harry’s first dip back in the water had been a successful one.
“On the first public appearance [after a scandal] of course it is important to spot the elephant traps ahead of time, but the central thing is to be absolutely true to who you are.
“Brits expect self-deprecation, and that is what he did. He didn’t duck it, and he was open and true to how he has always been on these public occasions, whether it’s racing Usain Bolt in Jamaica or whatever.
“There has been a lot of fuss about the Vegas pictures but Harry has put enough credit in the bank. He is not like the old royals who were put on a platform, and were special, and not like us, and were suffering for us. In the modern world we allow people to make mistakes and Harry is a modern royal.
“While he obviously can’t carry on this way, he acquitted himself well. People like him, and there is a feeling now that this was just a 27-year old bloke out on the lash.”
But the masterclass in modern public relations didn’t end with the cheeky speech: channelling his mother, Harry then started kidding around with the children.
A brave move, given that one of them, six-year-old Alex Logan, a leukemia patient, had, earlier in the day, been on a TV News show and had said that when he spoke to Queen Elizabeth's grandson he planned to say: "I'm glad you've got your clothes on Prince Harry."
Clearly, news of the broadcast had reached Harry, because when they met, Harry gave him a smile, wagged his finger at him and said, “You keep looking up at your mum. It looks like you're dying to say something but you know she will tell you off. I heard you were on ITV earlier, you said something cheeky, but let's not talk about that here.”