Being the ‘spare’ rather than ‘heir’ has its distinct advantages… as the royal family’s daredevil Prince Harry knows only too well.
‘Royal first-borns may get all the glory,’ his mother once told him, ‘but second-borns enjoy more freedom.’
As Harry approaches his landmark 30th birthday and steps out of the shadow of his older brother Prince William, former Royal Correspondent at OK! Magazine, Marcia Moody, takes a look back at what has already been a turbulent life and examines just what ‘freedom’ has meant for the dashing, daring prince.
It is almost 17 years since the world witnessed 12-year-old Harry’s grief as he publicly coped with the devastating death of his mother, Princess Diana, in that terrible car crash in Paris.
The nation lost a much-loved royal but Harry was robbed of a loving mother who brought fun, happiness and devotion to his early years.
The prince’s journey from a golden childhood to cruel bereavement, controversy, criticism, charity work and successful army career comes under close scrutiny in Moody’s fascinating and revelatory biography.
Harry was born in 1984, just as Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles was going ‘down the drain,’ as she later told Andrew Morton, author of Diana: Her True Story, the biography that shocked the world.
During their early years, both William and Harry were unaware of their parents’ marital problems but later, through his mother’s friendship with Life Guards officer James Hewitt, Harry formed an interest in joining the army.
William and Harry have always been incredibly close despite their very different personalities… Harry, mischievous and rash, was a contrast to his more reserved and circumspect older brother.
‘You’ll be King, I won’t, so I can do what I want,’ Harry is reported to have declared to William but, as they grew up, the bond between them grew stronger with Harry revealing that William ‘is the one person on this earth that I can actually talk to about anything.’
The death of their mother united them forever, and their brotherly love and more recently the affection of his sister-in-law Kate has helped see Harry through the bad times… under-age drinking, smoking marijuana, his party gaffes and those notorious naked photos in Las Vegas.
Harry sees himself as three different figures – the soldier, the man and the prince – but he has always felt least comfortable in his royal role, sometimes struggling with the constant attention it brings.
But he is a bold and colourful character who ‘grabs life with both hands and rides it at 100 miles an hour – sometimes perilously close to the edge.’
In recent years, he has truly come of age, serving on the front line in Afghanistan, setting up his own charities, undertaking his first solo tour, trekking to the North and South Poles to raise money for others and representing his grandmother the Queen.
Moody’s comprehensive and accessible biography includes Harry’s early years, the breakdown of his parents’ marriage, the death of his mother, his close relationships with his father and stepmother Camilla, his career, the controversies, the women in his life and current love Cressida Bonas.
Harry is still young and has a lot of life yet to live but, as Moody points out, no matter what comes next for this warrior prince, one thing is for certain… he’s sure to keep on surprising us.
(Michael O’Mara Books, hardback, £20)