I feel sad for Prince Harry.
Now before you unleash fury on me, hear me out. Yes, he’s set to inherit a boatload of dolla bills from his mother’s estate. He lives in a palace, gorgeous women fawn over him wherever he goes, and well, shit, he’s a Prince, so there’s that… But, in reality, is the life of The Spare, really all it’s cracked up to be? We’ve heard him say, numerous times, that it ain’t all rainbows and unicorns, he’s even expressed how crappy it is to be single and searching for someone, famously saying, “The job that it entails…look at me, I’m 27 years old and not so much searching for someone to fulfill the role, but obviously finding someone that would be willing to take it on.” While Hot Harry has never been one to stay on message, this particular left turn about finding love, may give us a bit of insight into the PR Machine that is The Firm.
I’m not claiming to be a royal expert. Far from it. I’m simply a 30-something voyeur with a slightly unnatural obsession with all things England, including the Royal Family. That said, I also fancy myself a bit of a PR guru and pop culture analyst. Having worked as a Public Relations Advisor, Strategic Planner and Consultant for almost ten years, I’d like to think I may have a special superpower: one that allows me to tap into and unravel the hundreds of layers that impact and surround every seemingly meaningless decision made by those in this remarkable family. A family that has, once again, risen to popularity thanks, in part, to the younger, hipper Royals pushing for the evolution of an institution that, some may say, had grown stale. In my head, these young grasshoppers are not only aware of the importance of public perception and opinion; they are, consciously or not, governed by it. These are young adults that grew up in a different age – an age in which their every move is tracked on social media. Their awkward years were on display for everyone to see, and comment on. That’s a hell of a lot of pressure. What worries me, isn’t so much the pressure of the outside, but that which is coming from the inside – from the PR team that is doing their best to capitalize on the surge in popularity by showing glimpses of the lifestyle evolution that is taking place whilst keeping some of the tradition, pomp and pageantry of old. Case in point: Prince Ginger and his unfortunate and unsuccessful stroll down Lovers Lane.
While I would love to know the ins and outs of Harry’s flings and more serious relationships, I don’t. None of us do. But what I do know is that there appears to be a trend: blonde, fit and rich. Fine. Can’t blame the guy for that. But, what about the sock they are coming from? Aristocratic, well educated (the serious ones that we know of), and generally, free from “wanting” anything. The young women Captain Wales has been publically connected to have money, they have gorgeous clothes, fancy cars and holiday homes. My question is this: if I had nothing to gain from a relationship, other than the prying eyes of the worlds media, and shit load of expectations and responsibility, would love really be enough?
Don’t write me off as a cynical, heartless bitch quite yet. I’m a romantic at heart. I am. But I’m also a realist. If I were a young, wealthy aristocrat, and I partied the world five times over, sipping Patron and Dom Perignon, dancing on tables and doing whatever the hell I wanted, would I want to give up that life of luxury and freedom for a life in the public eye? I’m not so sure I would. You know who would though? The middle and upper middle class stock. It worked for William, non?
William met Kate. She was middle class-ish. Grounded. Fun. Sporty. Well educated. And pretty. We can’t forget pretty. It was a love story for the ages. But let’s not be naive to the fact that young Kate had something to gain. A whole lot to gain, in fact. The difference between William and his romance with Kate and Harry and his romantic suitors is this: Public Relations. William and Co. had time to assess the Kate situation, behind closed doors at St. Andrews. She would be groomed (if necessary), away from the media spotlight so that if, and when the day came where she was presented to the world, the diamond in the rough would be polished and “royal-esque.” And isn’t this exactly what happened? When Kate began to make appearances to support William, she was pristine. She crossed her legs at her ankles, wore appropriately fitted clothing with an acceptable hemline. She didn’t speak unless spoken to. It was a PR win. Well done, team.
Our Harry doesn’t have the luxury of a private university experience. The moment a potential suitor says yes to cocktails is the moment they risk putting their entire life on display and their head on the judgment block. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook blow up the moment Harry is spotted with a new lady. In moments she is identified. Within hours we know where she went to school, the quality of her parents’ relationship, who her friends are, the High Street boutiques she favours and what she had for lunch. I would imagine all the PR Team can do is cross their fingers and hope that the new girl doesn’t fancy Vegas.
While I’m not suggesting that The Firm’s PR Team flat out dictates the private lives of Harry, or any member of the family, I do reckon Harry knows the game well enough to know what the expectation is: date an appropriate girl and everyone’s life will be easier. What constitutes an appropriate girl? From a PR perspective, my guess is that the definition of appropriate goes something like this: well spoken, but not outspoken, well-dressed, but not haute couture, well educated and employed but not a CEO. Other adjectives that come to mind? Philanthropic, maternal, well mannered, polished… Essentially, someone who will prove not to be an embarrassment to the family. Aristocratic girls tick all the boxes. They know which of the three forks to use first at dinner, and wouldn’t make the mistake of using the white wine glass for a Shiraz. But, are these girls a good match for Harry? Will they want to put up with all of the attention and judgment that comes along with dating a prince? Perhaps a better question is, do they need him, as much as he and his family needs them?
The House of Windsor needs all of its members to fall into line with their values. Their way of doing things. Their brand. A girl with money and power of her own gains nothing. Even if true love is in the cards, is it enough? Money, power and luxury are their reality, with or without a prince. Freedom, however, exists only outside the confines of The Firm. Does Harry know this? Sure he does, but is he encouraged to take on a Kate Project? Does The Firm have the patience or confidence that Harry can deliver the same way William did in that area? After all, it’s Harry that’s been branded the Royal Fuck-Up time and time again, the last thing the family needs is Harry picking a girl from (GASP) Zone 3, and having her write a tell all. Harry is a smart lad. He will always choose what’s best for his family and so maybe he knows that the easy choice is the one that will appease The Machine: The well-bred girl. And so the cycle continues…
Step one: Approach the hot rich girl.
Step two: Charm her, simply because I can, and it’s fun. I like the chase.
Step three: Fall for the hot rich girl.
Step four: Convince the hot rich girl that while the lifestyle is challenging, we can take over the world.
Step five: Convince the rich girl that love is all we need.
Step six: Shit. I’m doing that “convincing thing again…”
Step seven: Hot rich girl leaves and keeps partying, going to music festivals and living the life I want to live. Without me.
Step eight: I’m pissed, alone in my apartment, drunk texting my exes and watching Homeland.
Playing the PR relationship game? Yes it’s the least amount of work on the front end. It’ll make the family happy, he’ll avoid the “Royal Fuck Up” headline, but ultimately, will it get him anywhere? Isn’t that exact headline what has made us love him and has endeared him to millions? We love that he drinks too much, makes horrible, irresponsible decisions from time to time, and talks about “piss bags” on camera. I personally wait in anticipation for him to go off message – it’s what makes him interesting. It’s what makes him human! All of the things that have gotten dear Harry a slap on the wrist, are all of the things we love him for – that and the white polo pants and the child / baby animal cuddling. But I digress, what I’m trying to get at is, this: going rogue has landed him in hot water in the past, but only for a short time. After almost thirty years, his left turns and PR disasters have made him the family’s biggest success. Go sideways into the land of middle class estrogen, Hot Harry. You (and your family) will win. I promise!
And so, if I were to come head-to-head with Prince Henry of Wales, I would dish out the following PR advice:
Darling, Harry, please, for the love of all that’s holy, get into the trenches. The not-so-posh girls are good learners. Hell, the keen ones are quick studies. They’ll provide you with endless fun and entertainment while they teach you things like how to backpack across Southeast Asia for less and ten quid a day. They will show you where to find the pub with the best burger, cheapest pint and biggest screen to watch the rugby match. Alternately, you’ll impress them with your best table manners, and teach them how to say, “thank you for your hospitality” in 62 different languages and dialects. They’ll appreciate all you have to offer them, because (and listen closely) they will grow with you, and you with them. And, if they fall in love with you, the odds are in your favour, big guy. They have something to gain, and they can weigh the pros and cons. Where as the rich girls? All they get are cons. This? This is a relationship that could last.
And, Harry, I know you’re smart, so you probably want the PR outcome. Here it is: You and your middle class lady would be another, somewhat approachable, down-to-earth-ish couple that the world thinks they can identify with and love. Work up front? Yes. Learning curve? Steep. Stumbles and potential inter-family shouting matches? Pretty much guaranteed. But you like a little bad PR to keep things exciting, don’t you, Harry? You like a little drama, it’s kinda been your modus operandi. Let’s use it as a means to a happily ever after though, yes? So go. Now. Call your Team and advise them of your strategy so you can live a long, Royal life with a lovely girl by your side. A girl that loves you. A girl that’s just as happy to be planting trees and cutting ribbons as she is to be at home with you, wearing track pants, cracking a pint and making fart jokes.