His highly relaxed, all-dancing tour of the Caribbean was a big hit, but Prince Harry has been ordered to pack away his blue suede shoes, focus on his army training and take a back seat for the remainder of the Jubilee celebrations, thereby allowing other members of the Royal Family to come to the fore.
Although there is no suggestion that Harry has been anything other than a great asset to ‘the firm’ during the past two weeks, a royal source has told The Royalist that some of the more traditional Palace courtiers believe that while Harry’s tour “captured the popular imagination” some at the Palace now want to change the tone, and “mark the Jubilee in a more formal manner.”
Another Royal insider said that in Harry’s place, other, less glamorous members of the Royal family will now step forward to “do their bit” representing the Queen and celebrating her 60 years on the throne. Harry is also facing pressure from his military bosses to step back from his royal role, and focus exclusively on the final stage of his Apache helicopter attack training, which is due to take place over the summer in Kenya, if he wants to return the front line. The Prince is seeking to return to Afghanistan after serving for ten weeks there in 2008 as a forward air controller. This time he is expected to operate as an Apache pilot out of Camp Bastion.
Harry has already qualified as an Apache helicopter co-pilot after 18 months of training in the UK and the US, and was awarded a prize for best co-pilot gunner in his class, but he still needs to maintain a perfect record in the final Kenyan phase of his training in order to be allowed to fly Apaches in combat in Afghanistan.
‘It is hardcore,’ says an insider of the training, which is the final stage in a grueling program.
With Harry out of the picture, other senior Royals can now look forward to getting more press attention. Indeed, the process of cross-fading Harry out of the mix and bringing in other members of the family has already begun, with Sophie, the Countess of Wessex and wife of Prince Edward, the Queen’s youngest son, capturing headlines and front pages today for her headgear at a church service to mark Commonwealth Day.
William is due back from the Falklands in the next few days, and he will be joining Kate on a series of engagements throughout the summer.
But while William and Kate are undoubtedly crowd pullers, the Royals will struggle to match the excitement and glamour generated by Harry on his tour of the Caribbean and Brazil.
The role of glamorous young globetrotting royal may yet be filled, temporarily at least, by the photogenic Princess Beatrice, the daughter of Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew, who, according to Royal writer Katie Nicholl, is lobbying to be allowed to represent the Queen in India.
“Beatrice would like to play her part in marking her grandmother’s milestone,” a source told Nicholl. “She has a lot to offer the Royal Family, but there is a feeling the attention is being focused on William, Harry and Kate as far as the young Royals are concerned.”
But it now seems certain that Harry’s legions of fans who may have been expecting the young Prince Charming to stay in the limelight as the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations kick into high gear over the summer will be disappointed.
It seems unlikely Harry will be hitting the town when he gets home either. The Sun reported today that Harry had been “banned from the pub” by military chiefs, but a spokesman for the Prince denied this, saying, “Prince Harry has not been told never to socialise in public until deployment. Prince Harry is fully committed to his intensive pre-deployment training and he has not been told anything by his chain of command that does not apply to any other pilot.”
The spokesman did confirm however that Harry will not be playing any further major role in the Jubilee celebrations, saying he will only undertake “a handful” of public engagements during the remainder of the year.
Buckingham Palace told the Daily Beast that while the ‘central weekend’ might have more ‘formal set pieces’ there would be a “wide range of celebrations, both formal and informal” to mark the Jubilee.