Press reports that Prince Harry has been cavorting merrily with nubile young ladies at a night club in Croatia – including a dunking in the pool – is an ironic reminder of what a lousy role in life it is to be a sibling of the monarch, or future monarch.
It is true that Harry appears to be having fun – he always seems to be having fun – but it also somehow looks like hard work.
It certainly was for his predecessors.
Queen Elizabeth’s younger sister Margaret, confined like Harry to a worthless walk-on part in an earlier episode of the same endless royal soap opera, spent much of her life – before, during and after her marriage – hanging around with the smart set in the fashionable salons of joy in London, Paris, Gstaad and the Caribbean. Ostensibly she was enjoying the high life, but it was apparently a life filled with angst and sundry frustrations that often boiled over into outbursts of pique and public temper tantrums.
Likewise her uncle David, the Duke of Windsor, and briefly King Edward VIII, whose sense of duty to his country, he felt, was best fulfilled by attending as many town and country parties as possible, at many of which he managed to be photographed looking in turn miserable, angry or plain lost. He ended up with the woman he loved, of course, but what a gothically gruesome couple they made as they wandered the globe, ostracized by the royals and despised by the public, in search of pointless diversions.
Harry may well be made of sterner stuff, but what has he to look forward to except endless gossip about who he might marry, constant carping that he doesn’t have a proper job (the Army doesn’t really count; all princes have a stint in the armed forces, if only to qualify later as honorary regimental colonels) and then, once he has found a child-bearing wife, incessant examination of how he’s raising his children? A real job? Out of the question, if precedent is anything to go by.
Harry seems like a nice kid. Perhaps he’ll be the one to break the mould. I sure hope so.
Unless he really is having fun, in which case, good luck to him.