Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Harry's a prince of a guy

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BRISBANE -- Prince Harry arrives in Sydney today and tabloid newspapers have one message to Australian parents -- "lock up your daughters.''

The flame-haired prince who has emerged as perhaps the most popular celebrity in the latest generation of British royals will be in Australia for a brief visit as part of the International Fleet Review.

That the review marks the 100th anniversary of the first entry into Sydney Harbour of the Royal Australian Navy's fleet matters little to the majority of Australians who don't enjoy harbour views.

It's the camera shots of Prince Harry that will be devoured as they are aired around the nation.

Around 40 warships, including 18 foreign vessels and 16 tall ships, will gather in one of the globe's most magnificant natural harbours -- the perfect backdrop for a royal visitor.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is expected to host an official engagement at his official Sydney residence on Saturday at Kirribilli House, where the prince will meet dozens of young Australians.

Harry is also expected to take part in a "walkabout'' to give ordinary Australians the opportunity to catch a glimpse of a young man who appears to have an almost unanimous approval rating among Australians.

Why do we love Harry? Because we know he is only doing what most of us not blessed with royal blood would do if we were -- having an unfeasibly good time.

Travelling the world, mingling with beautiful women and smoking pot as a school boy at Eton (which alone must have been a magnificently revelatory experience) are not all activities readily available to those who fret about redundancy and next month's rent.

This prince doubtlessly makes a valuable contribution to the institution that is the British Royal Family and is pursuing an admirable aviation/military career.

And, yes, he is also patron of worthy activities such as "Walking With Wounded'' where he will participate in a gruelling race to the South Pole.

But he also managed to get nude in a Las Vegas hotel room with attractive companions and prance around Highgrove House dressed as a Nazi while never even coming close to being cast out from the ancient ruling caste he was born into.

Prince Harry has what musicians might call a good gig and the wonderful thing about this gig is that here is a royal determined to enjoy it.

Australians, so far removed from England's class system, don't harshly judge this apparently amiable soul who almost appears to have been conjured up from a Shakespearian play.

Online betting agency has even offered odds of 101-1 the prince will get booted out of Sydney's Star Casino for getting nude a second time.

The only thing missing from the exuberant life of "Prince Hal'' is a Sir John Falstaff, that wonderful, boastful drunkard from the Henry IV, who, in middle age knew the joys of capturing a youthful slipstream, and relishing life's "sack and the sugar.''

Had Prince Harry had a Falstaff he wouldn't even had to rid himself of that "fat knight'' in his more mature years, because the cakes and ale look like continuing for this prince for years to come.

He has wisely sent forth an older brother into the world to ensure the more mundane aspects of a royal life are taken care of.

Should Prince William meet an unfortunate accident and duty call, no doubt Prince Harry will answer the call... dutifully.

But, seriously, why would anyone want to be king when you can live life your entire life a prince?


Michael Madigan is the Winnipeg Free Press correspondent in Australia. He writes mostly about politics for the Brisbane-based Courier Mail.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 4, 2013 0

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