Reprinted from The Telegraph
It’s always slightly disconcerting when you meet two brothers who are totally opposite in outlook and character. But two men who illustrate very publicly that shared parentage need not result in a shared nature are Prince William and Prince Harry.
For the two brothers represent perfectly opposing sides of the coin of masculinity, and the latest example of this emerged in Harry’s interview from the Antarctic (he is there attempting to walk to the South Pole with the charity Walking With The Wounded) in which he showed his capacity for plain-speaking, declaring that his brother Prince William was 'quite jealous' of his expedition into the frozen wastes of the south, because such a trip would be an ideal way of getting away from "a screaming child."
One assumes that Harry won’t be changing nappies when the time comes.
Take note, Cressida.
For if William is the ultimate modernizer in the Royal family, the new man who was hoping for a daughter (according to Kate), who announced plans to take a year off work after his son was born, and proved himself a dab hand at fitting the car seat into position outside the hospital, then Harry is the unreconstructed bloke of the family, happiest when a bivvy or a bevy is involved in whatever plans are being made.
The examples are legion—even without mentioning the Vegas episode.
Take for example, their working lives. William, when interviewed about his job flying lumbering yellow Sea Kings around the Welsh mountains rescuing idiot walkers who have set off for a hike without a compass, professed that there was ‘no higher calling’ than saving lives. Harry, when interviewed in Afghanistan about flying boy’s own Apache attack choppers, rather too gaily talked about killing enemy fighters, the joy of it not being a ‘fair fight’ and compared the whole experience to being on a PlayStation or Xbox (games consoles which, incidentally, William recently admitted that Kate will not allow in the house). It is as if there is a genetic compulsion to fly helicopters in both brothers—but then the two seek to live out their dreams in diametrically opposite fashions, thereby asserting their individuality.
The artist Alison Jackson, who specializes in photographing ersatz scenes of celebrity life using lookalike models, created a series of images after the Royal baby was born that perfectly parody the image of William as the caring sharing new man; William changing nappies, William using a false boob to feed the baby, William trying to put a cot together (with a uniformed footman standing by). Her pictures of Harry, on the other hand, rarely depict the fourth-in-line to the throne with a full set of clothes on or without a blonde on each arm.
Now, to cement his ‘real bloke’ credentials, Harry has gone and grown a beard. And not one of those trendy Hoxton beards (that are so over) but a real Arctic explorer’s beard, a full and utilitarian covering of facial hair. Can there be anything more real-mannish? And does anyone imagine that William does anything other than shave every single morning? Is there ever so much as a hirstute hint on his handsome face? I think you will find there is not.
But, like many brothers who seem to be opposites (I have two brothers whom I adore but couldn’t be more unlike me), Harry and William are actually opposite in very similar ways.
The two princes are certainly very different characters, the new man and the old-fashioned bloke, but they also make the kinds of mirror, or negative, images of each other that only the very closest of brothers can.Royal insiders have long smiled at the characterization of William as a goody-two-shoes as a gross over-simplification, but there’s no doubt that William and Harry each present a very different but equally archetypal vision of what it means to be a man today.This article first appeared in The Telegraph.