Independence for Wills & Harry

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The news that Prince Harry and Chelsy Davy have split up was a surprise, coming just after Chelsy’s job placement at law firm Farrer & Co with an option of a job at Allen & Overy following her graduation from Leeds University, writes Simona Rossi. The split was revealed through the tabloid ‘News of the World’ and confirmed by the lady herself via her profile on the social networking site ‘Facebook’ to read:‘Relationship: Not in one’ The end of the relationship was caused by the ongoing stress Chelsy found being a royal girlfriend, and also apparently the media scrutiny; but not from any lack of welcome from the Royal Family. In essence, Chelsy has had enough because the relationship did not have a high enough priority in Harry’s life. It is significant, not only for Harry’s future but also for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s relationship. Harry and Chelsy first met in the spring of 2004. She was a 19-year-old pupil at the exclusive Cheltenham Ladies College, close to Prince Charles’ Highgrove estate. The relationship remained secret for eight months when Harry holidayed with Chelsy at a remote polo lodge fifty-five miles from Buenos Aires. Shortly afterward Prince William acknowledged that his younger brother was “madly in love”.

Chelsy did bring a degree of controversy as Harry’s first serious girlfriend through her father’s safari business which ran a game farm in Zimbabwe. And in the early days the relationship did not appear that serious with the couple enjoying a series of exotic holidays, whilst Harry’s gaffe prone nature gave the media plenty to run with. In April 2005 there were reports, denied by Clarence House, of Harry partying with an attractive girl in ski resort of Klosters. The following year he angered Chelsy by celebrating the end of his military training at Sandhurst with a trip to the local Spearmint Rhino Club. In the background to any tensions Harry’s high-octane lifestyle may have brought was the six-thousand miles between the UK and Chelsy’s home in South Africa. Yet the relationship seemed to be proving itself and Chelsy’s decision to move to England to study suggested that the couple were laying the foundations for a life together. With Chelsy studying law and Harry pursuing his military career the immediate future seemed settled but just two months later Chelsy told Harry she “needed space” to find her own identity. Some reports were that Harry responded by saying he would get as drunk as possible; others that he declared his intention to prove to Chelsy a relationship with a royal could work. Within a few weeks they had reconciled. A little more than a year later Chelsy has decided enough is enough.

The decision is surprising in that Chelsy had been considering a full time move to London and the couple had recently enjoyed a holiday together in Mauritius, when, however, Chelsy reportedly made her decision. Nor is there any indication of pressure from the Royal Family on Harry, rather the opposite. It appears that Chelsy has rejected the baggage that comes with being a royal girlfriend, and that this has been exacerbated by Harry’s commitment to his military career which means that they would have spent long periods apart. Whether or not the split is the last word on Harry and Chelsy remains to be seen, they are both young enough to take a break from one another and pick up the threads later on. However, it appears that Chelsy has made her final decision. So how, if at all, does this affect Prince William and Kate Middleton? They seem as close as ever, but William too has opted for a military career which will last for several years. And if William’s army and royal career can be predicted with a reasonable degree of accuracy, his behaviour when it comes to his personal future has been enigmatic if not downright confusing. Outward appearances suggest all is proceeding smoothly, as was demonstrated by a day of hunting on the Sandringham Estate just before Christmas. William and Kate stayed with friends at Wood Farm on the estate. It was initially meant to be a couples’ day with Harry and Chelsy joining them, but Chelsy declined the invite. Provocatively to some, refreshingly to others, there has been little politically correct about Kate’s obvious pleasure in the royal pastime. On this occasion, wearing a dark jacket, scarf and warm hat, Kate’s enthusiasm was plain to see.

The occasion will be remembered not only as one of the telling moments in the demise of Harry and Chelsy’s relationship, but also for William’s new bearded look. The Prince stopped shaving while on a recent anti-drug smuggling exercise with the Special Boat Service in the Caribbean. It has been something of a tradition for the Windsor men. Prince Charles also grew a beard during his naval career, while serving in Alaska in 1975, as did Prince Philip during his own wartime service aboard HMS Valiant. Royal beards, out of fashion in the era of the Prince Regent, have been fashionable from the later nineteenth century onwards. But sporting a beard can have its unexpected consequences. George V, Prince William’s great-great-grandfather, enjoyed his morning stroll in London, and one day, as he stepped out to cross the road, heard a cab-driver shout, “Watch out, beaver,” as he swerved past the unrecognisable monarch. Militant cabbies aside, there is no reason why the future king should not wear a “beaver”!

However, the new look did not last long and post-Christmas a fresh faced Prince made ready for his year with the RAF. Whilst her beau apparently keeps her waiting regarding an engagement, Kate is said to have been initially unhappy about William’s decision for a long term military career. If so, it is understandable that having been so long the confirmed girlfriend there is no sign yet of a settled life together, whilst at the same time Kate remains the centre of attention. Kate has had her share of run-ins with the paparazzi and the media coverage in general and a forthcoming book may add to her woes. In the spring journalist Claudia Joseph will publish ‘Princess in Waiting’, a biography of Kate and her life to date. Joseph is thought to have talked with family and friends who bring an insight into “the extraordinary journey she has made from the back streets to an apartment in the royal residence Clarence House.” The book published by Mainstream suggests a story worthy of ‘My Fair Lady’. The cover declares: “With her glossy hair, classic looks, natural appearance and cut-glass accent, Kate Middleton displays all the poise and breeding expected from the wife of the heir to the throne. Yet behind her polished veneer lies the extraordinary tale of an impoverished working-class family that overcame deprivation and adversity to rise to the upper echelons of society.” Middle class Kate will be reborn as Eliza Doolittle perhaps; whether or not Kate will approve of the tome remains to be seen. There have also been reports suggesting that Kate’s mum Carole has worries for her daughter’s marital prospects with William. But Kate’s special place in William’s life is constantly illustrated, as was the case with a post-Christmas break at Balmoral along with the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. William and Kate had been expected to take a quick skiing break, so opting to stay at Balmoral was very much a family decision as Camilla does not enjoy the ski-slopes.

What has been throwing the pundits off is that William and Kate will not be hurried into engagement or marriage; and as much of William’s time in the next year will be taken up with his army career, Kate is reportedly considering a move to the USA and has been in talks with Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour and designer Tom Ford about taking a position in a New York fashion house. It could give Kate’s career a focus and, perhaps, bring a respite from the media attention in Britain. But it could also weaken her relationship with William. However their personal lives develop, the public lives of Prince Charles’ two sons will go on as they continue to develop their roles within the Royal Family. In that regard, Prince William and Prince Harry have taken another step towards becoming full and independent members of the Royal Family by opening their own offices to organise and co-ordinate their public roles. The move takes them from under the protective wing of the Prince of Wales’ office at Clarence House, and, of course, was approved by The Queen. The office will be based in St James’ Palace where Prince Charles lived and worked up until he moved into Clarence House after the death of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother in 2002. The Princes’ office will be funded by the Prince of Wales from his Duchy of Cornwall income, meaning that there will be no additional cost to the taxpayer. The changes mean that not only will William and Harry operate from their own office, they will also have their own headed paper embossed with their personal crests. The Princes were involved in designing the crests which incorporate an emblem from the family arms of their late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. Harry’s crest – a lion and unicorn placed either side of a shield, is topped by a coronet and a second, smaller lion – is similar to the one created for Prince William on his 18th birthday. The Princes will have a small staff which will report directly to them. The team is headed by their private secretary Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, a former SAS officer. In the autumn there had been a signal of what was to come with the appointment of a press secretary, Miguel Head who worked with Prince Harry during his secret 10-week assignment to Afghanistan. William and Harry are now regulars in the ‘Court Circular’, the official record of the Royal Family’s public engagements. Their workload to date has been, compared to Prince Charles or Princess Anne, light. Last year William carried out 24 engagements and Harry 17, which included two overseas. As both are pursuing military careers, for 2009 there will be no increase in official engagements but they will be taking on more charitable work. Although Charles’ sons are perceived as young and high-spirited, they are both older than their father was when he was given his own private office, following his investiture in 1969. Charles was aged 20. William is now 26, and Harry is 24. This delay reflects the fact that Charles has been careful to allow his sons space to develop their own careers and make their own choices. The office change has been under consideration for months and would have already been implemented if, as had been expected, William had left the Army at the end of December to become a full-time working member of the Royal family. He opted instead to pursue a new career as a search and rescue pilot in the RAF. A royal spokesman said: “It is part of the natural progression of William and Harry as senior members of the Royal Family. It is like their coming of age as it was for a young Princess Elizabeth and young Prince of Wales.”

In the meanwhile Prince Harry has found himself embroiled in the sort of media controversy that seems to bedevil him. This time it was footage from an old army video in which Harry called a fellow recruit “Paki”. The suspicion is that the footage was copied from a laptop and sold to the media, but that does little to help the hapless Harry, who infamously dressed up as a Nazi for a party joke. The two incidents occured more than three years ago but that counts for little when the army has been promoting its zero tolerance image on racism. On this point, even the usually sensitive Prince Charles seems to have missed the point. Trying to defend his son, Charles admitted that he called one of his friends ‘Sooty’. The nickname belongs to Kolin Dhillon, a former chairman of the Schools and Universities Polo Association, who is also a member of the Cirencester Polo Club along with Prince Charles and his two sons. Amongst friends this sort of thing causes no offence and it is a moot point as to whether or not Harry should have censored himself. The term ‘Paki’ in itself does have a racist connotation but context and usage (ie: real life) determine the specific meaning. Harry’s critics point to the need for the Royal Family to actively engage in zero tolerance behaviour toward racism. The controversy will die down and Harry’s accident prone nature seems to be calming down as he matures; although another faux pax is always a possibility. (Extract from Royalty Magazine Vol. 21/05)