Royals making most of London Olympics

The Royal Family has been popping up at Olympic events across London, making the most of an opportunity to bolster their public image while the international spotlight shines on the British capital.

Games an opportunity for younger generation to 'stand out'

The Royal Family has been popping up at Olympic events across London, making the most of an opportunity to bolster their public image while the international spotlight shines on the British capital.

The royals had already been making headway on the public-relations front since the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton last year and the couple's subsequent international tour.

Hollywood's sympathetic take on the House of Windsor in recent films like The Queen and The King's Speech has also helped audiences view the royals in a more positive light, says Carolyn Harris, a Toronto-based expert on European royalty.

The Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee last month and made headlines around the world. But now the royals have a new platform to raise their profile at home and abroad.

Camilla Parker Bowles, Duchess of Cornwall, left, Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William chat while they wait for Britain's hopeful Zara Phillips to compete in an equestrian event at the London Olympics on July 30. (Olivia Harris/Reuters)

In particular, Harris said the Games have provided an opportunity "for the younger generation of the Royal Family to stand out and show their own interest in youth and sports."

Prince Harry visited Canada House on Thursday, where he met with members of the silver-medal men’s eight rowing team and helped cheer on the Canadian women’s eight team as they earned silver.

Canada House on Trafalgar Square is the home of this country’s High Commission in London, as well as a gathering place for athletes and officials during the 2012 Games.

More than 100 athletes and family members were on hand for Harry's visit. The prince chatted briefly about the Games with kayaker Michael Tayler and the Canadian asked the royal for a recommendation on the best place to go out in London.

"I don't go out anymore, I'm too old," the prince said jokingly.

Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry also visited the British Olympic team's official residence on Tuesday to wish members luck, catching dozens of athletes by surprise.

Even 86-year-old Queen Elizabeth has shown a playful side, appearing in a video at the opening ceremonies and then pretending to jump out of a helicopter alongside British actor Daniel Craig, who has played James Bond.

Improving image

The royals appear to have come a long way since the 1990s, when media coverage tended to focus on their marital troubles, Harris said. Today the media tends to focus on "their dedication to their duties," she said, and depicts them more as holistic public personalities.

The House of Windsor isn't the only monarchy represented at the Games, however. "An unprecedented number" of European royals have descended on London for the event, Harris said, and several of them are former Olympians.

Denmark's Crown Prince Frederik carried the Olympic torch through the west London neighbourhood of Notting Hill last week. The 44-year-old heir to the Danish throne is also Denmark's member on the International Olympic Committee and an avid marathon runner.

Prince Albert of Monaco and his wife, Princess Charlene, both participated in Olympics past. He competed five times as a bobsledder, while she swam for her native South Africa at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Both planned to attend  Olympic events while in London.

While many European royals have competed in previous Olympics though, few have won a medal.

On Tuesday, the Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips accomplished that rare feat, taking home a silver medal as part of Britain's equestrian team.

British royals came out in full force to support her during the competition. On Monday, Princes William and Harry watched from the main equestrian arena, along with William's wife, Kate, and Camilla, the wife of Prince Charles. Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, the daughters of Prince Andrew sat beside them.

To cap off the family affair, Phillips was presented with the medal by her mother, Princess Anne, who gave her a kiss on both cheeks.

With files from The Associated Press