Skip to main content

Authors see pattern in Prince Harry's behavior

  • Story Highlights
  • Royal watchers see a pattern in Prince Harry's errant behavior
  • Latest furor over offensive remark made about Pakistani military colleague
  • Authors say second son syndrome may be to blame
  • Prince has had to apologize for offensive behavior before
  • Next Article in World »
By Richard Allen Greene
CNN
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Prince Harry, the red-headed younger son of Britain's Prince Charles and the late Diana, Princess of Wales, is back in the headlines after a British tabloid posted a home video of him using an offensive term to describe an Army colleague.

Prince Harry's behavior landed him on the front pages of British newspapers.

Prince Harry's behavior landed him on the front pages of British newspapers.

Some of those who have watched him closely through the years see a pattern which they blame on royal destiny rather than racism or ignorance.

The video, much of it apparently shot by the prince himself in 2006, led to predictable howls of condemnation, not least from the sensation-seeking newspaper that published it.

News of the World posted the video on its Web site under the headline "Prince Harry video nasty that will spark outrage."

Harry, who is third in line to the throne, immediately issued an apology through a spokesman for referring to a soldier from Pakistan as "our little Paki friend." Video Watch video which has sparked controversy »

The word "Paki" is considered deeply offensive by many in Britain -- comparable to the "n-word" in the United States, said Harry biographer Mark Saunders. "That word is just unacceptable," Saunders said.

It was not the first time Harry had been forced to apologize for offending people. In 2005, the News of the World's sister paper The Sun obtained and published a photograph of him wearing a Nazi uniform at a party, prompting an apology and a promise that he had learned his lesson.

Penny Junor, who has written several books on Britain's royal family, says she suspects Harry may get himself into embarrassing situations more often than his older brother William at least partly because Harry does not expect to become king.

"Fundamentally it probably has a great deal to do with being number two," said Junor, the author of "The Firm: The Troubled Life of the House of Windsor." "He's a spare, not an heir."

She said: "The older ones are very much groomed for the task at hand. Those in charge sometimes miss a trick with the younger members" of the family, she said.

Harry's father, Prince Charles, may want to avoid trying to rein his son in too much, Junor theorized.

"I'm sure that Charles thinks it's putting an impossible burden on him to really nail Harry down to the floor when his future is uncertain," she said.

"Their lives are very restricted in many ways. It's a burden being the Prince of Wales, number two in line, number three in line. There is a tendency to try and relieve the burden from the children by not jumping down their throats every time they do something stupid."

In this generation, Harry has been much more likely than William to be the one doing "something stupid," she admitted.

William was criticized last year for landing an Army helicopter in a field belonging to his girlfriend's parents, but the incident did not cause the same uproar as Harry's two gaffes.

Harry may have engaged in more outrageous behavior than his older brother simply because of his personality, Junor added.

"He's much more frivolous than William, more an impetuous party animal," she said, also describing him as "not the brightest brain in Britain."

"The older child, because he knows there is a seriousness to the position he was born to, knows from day one what is expected of him," she said. "The younger one has all of the frustrations of that without knowing (if) he will inherit the throne."

Saunders, the author of "Prince Harry: The Biography," has observed the same pattern.

"Even when (Harry) was a young boy he was a maverick," said Saunders. "Harry used to play with the photographers, whereas you would never get that with William."

"William formed a bond with his father," based in part on the throne the two men expect to inherit -- which Harry likely never will, Saunders said. "There's a job that only William, his father and the queen can share."

Not expecting to become king may have freed Harry, Saunders speculated.

"This started a long time ago. (Harry) said 'I am me, and I am going to be me.' With Harry there have been several moments, gross errors. He has made missteps," Saunders said. "You could argue that there are simply the mistakes of a young man growing up -- but William could never afford to make those kind of mistakes."

It is a pattern that has been repeating, to an extent, in the royal family for generations.

Prince Andrew, one of Prince Charles' younger brothers, has something of a reputation as a playboy, while the queen's late younger sister, Princess Margaret, bucked convention in her own day, seeking to marry a divorced man.

advertisement

The British newspaper, The Guardian summed up the piquancy of being a younger sibling of the sovereign in Margaret's obituary in 2002, noting she had been second in line to the throne throughout her teens, but was 11th by the time she died.

"They have all the pressures of being a member of the family," Junor said, "without the reward of being the top person."

All About Prince Harry of Wales

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print