Britons shrug off Prince Harry's nude photo romp
'It could only happen to Harry — but we love him for it.'
Britain's Prince Harry has been caught on camera doing something embarrassing — again.
TMZ.com on Tuesday posted photos of the 27-year-old royal cavorting nude with an unidentified woman in a VIP suite in Las Vegas.
It's hardly the first time the prince — who allegedly disrobed as part of a game of strip pool — has been filmed in a compromising situation. The third-in-line to the throne was famously photographed wearing a Nazi uniform for a costume party, and in another photo-gaffe he was seen cupping the breast of a female TV presenter.
Some would argue footage in which he was heard to utter a racial slur while teasing a fellow army cadet from Pakistan was more serious.
If the reaction of Britons to Harry's Las Vegas adventure was anything to go by, the nude photos will do little to tarnish his generally positive, party-prince image. The Associated Press asked an assortment of royal watchers and British subjects about what they thought about the prince's naked romp.
Did Harry do anything wrong?
"The answer to that is categorically NO," said Jim Conlon, a 60-year-old construction worker.
Conlon, who was unloading bags of material from a car, seemed genuinely offended by the very question.
"I'd be proud of him if he were my son," he said.
Conlon's opinion was typical of a country where thousands of streets and pubs are named for the royal family. Polls published earlier this year showed support for the monarchy at an all-time high, perhaps buoyed by the celebrations surrounding Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebrations marking her 60 years on the throne.
Interviews with Londoners up and down the capital's Prince of Wales Road yielded few critics of Harry's antics.
"He's the prince. He can have any bird he wants!," said Craig Martin, 38, another construction worker.
Down the road, caregiver Shirley Ashard laughed at the news of Harry's naked adventure, dismissing questions about the propriety of running around a plush hotel room in the buff with a boys-will-be-boys shrug.
"I've got kids. They do things like that," the 59-year-old said. "He's a lad, for God's sake."
Will Harry's romp harm the image of the prince or the royal family?
Hanad Darwish, a 19-year-old student from Birmingham, worried about what Harry's hijinks said about his judgment.
"It is a little immature and gives the royals a bad image," he said.
But Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, said it wasn't likely that Harry's reputation would suffer. Seward said his party-boy image was part of his approachable, normal persona.
"Of course it's stupid, but it doesn't make people dislike him — quite the opposite," she said.
"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."
She did think, though, that Harry might get a talking-to from Prince Charles. "I would think his father would speak to him," she said.
Doesn't the royal family have a history of bad-boy behaviour?
Yes, said Anne Sebba, biographer of Wallis Simpson, the American divorcee whose affair with King Edward VIII — Harry's great-great-uncle — led to his abdication in 1936.
That king's grandfather, Edward VII — who reigned from 1901 to 1910 — had many affairs, parking his carriage outside the houses of his mistresses while he visited.
"The staff would be very discreet," said Sebba. "People knew; they just didn't talk about it."
Edward VIII and Simpson were well known in upper-crust circles for their hedonistic parties — and some visitors wrote their shocked reactions in diaries.
"It didn't reach the papers," Sebba said. "It is just in the private diaries. Nobody was taking photographs. Nobody was posting it on the Internet.
"The old system depended on incredible discretion, loyalty and deference — and all that has gone. "The royal family has had to make themselves so open and available and this is the downside of the coin."
Prince Harry's office confirmed Wednesday that the photos were of the prince but declined to make any further comment.
What about the prince's privacy?
The blurry, low-resolution photographs appear to have been snapped from inside a hotel suite, and it isn't clear that the prince was aware that they were being taken.
That could be a violation of the royal's privacy. It might also explain why Britain's scandal-hungry tabloids — normally avid consumers of titillating photos — were steering clear of the images.
Ashard, the caregiver, said the only outrage she could muster was against the photographer.
"That's out of order," she said. "How would you like it if someone took pictures of you in your hotel room?"
Isn't someone supposed to be watching him?
Royal protection officers watch over the queen and her family 24 hours a day, 7 days a week — though they remain firmly on the outside of the bedroom door. So shouldn't someone have been around to make sure this didn't happen?
Dai Davies, a former head of royal protection, said it did seem as if someone had let their guard down.
He noted that the past few decades were replete with examples of journalists trying to catch royals in compromising positions.
"There has to be a degree of responsibility and caution," he said. "Surely we have to learn from history. The press love this."