Britain's Prince Harry, who sparked a firestorm of criticism when he showed up at a costume party dressed as a Nazi, will be donning an entirely different uniform when he enters the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.
The 20-year-old prince is due to report at Sandhurst, the British version of West Point, on Sunday to begin a grueling 12-month training course as an officer cadet.
Harry, younger son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, is third in line to the throne, but officials insist he won't be getting special treatment.
"Prince Harry will be treated like every other cadet at Sandhurst," said a statement from Clarence House, Prince Charles' residence. "That's what he wants, and that's what Sandhurst wants."
Being treated like every other cadet means Harry will have to get up at 5:30 in the morning. In addition to undergoing physical training and firing practice, he'll have some course work, which could prove difficult. (He reportedly flunked a basic computer test for Sandhurst.) And the young prince can expect to undertake such menial tasks as polishing his boots.
His existence won't be completely Spartan, however. All cadets get a single room, albeit a small one, with a shower, sink and bath. He can bring in his own television and other comforts.
When he begins his military career, Harry will have to curtail the playboy behavior that landed him on tabloid front pages several times over the past year. Life in the barracks may also cast a damper on his romance with Chelsy Davy, a student at Cape Town University in South Africa.
Newspaper reports have screamed that Harry is besotted with the 19-year-old blonde, who is not exactly royal watchers' idea of future princess material. One reason is that her father, a multimillionaire who owns a huge game farm in Zimbabwe, is said to have ties to that country's dictator, Robert Mugabe.
Nevertheless, Harry flew to Botswana to spend some of his precious last free days with Davy before boot camp begins. During his first five weeks of training, the prince will get no days off, so they won't see each other for some time.
Although his love life will be interrupted, some think the military academy's strict discipline will be the best thing that ever happened to the rowdy redhead.
"At Sandhurst, Prince Harry will be watched all the time, 24 hours a day, and get away with nothing," defense analyst Charles Heyman, a former army major, told the BBC News Magazine back in January.
Harry in the Headlines
Following a post-secondary school "gap year" spent in Australia and Africa, Harry had been due to enroll at Sandhurst in January. Those plans were pushed back five months to allow a knee injury to heal.
Unfortunately, the delay also allowed time for the young prince to make plenty of headlines. When he showed up at a costume party dressed as a Nazi, the tabloids had a field day.
"Harry the Nazi," blared the headline in The Sun, which showed a photo of the prince wearing a swastika armband, holding a drink and smoking a cigarette.
The prince issued a statement apologizing for his "poor choice of costume," but that didn't stop the roar of disapproval. The costume party unfortunately came just two weeks before Europe marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp. A former armed forces minister, Doug Henderson, said Harry should withdraw from Sandhurst.
"I don't think this young man is suitable for Sandhurst," Henderson told reporters. "If it was anyone else the application wouldn't be considered."
Just a few months earlier, in October 2004, Harry got into a scuffle with a photographer outside a London nightclub. A week before that, a former art teacher at Eton claimed that she had helped the young prince cheat on an exam, an accusation Clarence House angrily denied.
While still a student at Eton, Harry had also made headlines for drinking and smoking pot. Prince Charles reportedly was so disturbed by this that he made Harry tour a drug treatment center as a warning.
Limited Career Options
As the spare heir, Harry has always been somewhat overshadowed by his older brother, William, and that's been true in academics, too. William is in his last year at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, but Harry decided to skip the college experience and go into the military.
It's really the only career acceptable for a royal, aside from sitting on a throne. Prince Charles served in both the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy after finishing his studies at Cambridge. Prince Philip, Harry's grandfather, served in the navy and saw action during World War II. Prince Andrew, Harry's uncle, was a navy helicopter pilot in the Falkland Islands War. Another uncle, Prince Edward, now Earl of Wessex, was subjected to public ridicule when he quit the marines during training.
If he completes his training, Harry can expect to join the Household Cavalry. He would spend at least six years in the army.
And while Harry will be accorded the basic courtesies at Sandhurst, it won't be a cakewalk, the sergeant major who will have charge of the young prince told The Sun last month.
"Prince Harry will call me sir. And I will call him sir," Warrant Officer 1st Class Vince Gaunt said. "But he will be the one who means it."