The British royal family has finally discovered a perfect role for Prince Harry.
They sent him, alone, on what they call an overseas “royal tour” on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II to mark her Diamond Jubilee, 60 years on the throne.
While these tours typically included fixed grins and sycophantic officials, Harry kicked it up a notch, traveling to Belize, Jamaica, the Bahamas and Brazil, doing what he does best — partying and having a good time.
He just got back, but while on his tour, Harry hugged the Jamaican prime minister, he was kissed on the cheek by Brazilian model Fernanda Motta after a polo match in Rio, he played rugby, beach volleyball, cricket and he outran the world’s fast man, Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, by cheating.
“You can’t sit there with a stiff upper lip and your arms folded,” Harry said. “We knew from the start that these countries were going to be fantastic fun. I’ve never taken myself too seriously.”
In the old days, these royal trips lasted months. And the queen has been doing them for 60 years. She’s visited 129 countries, accompanied by a phalanx of flunkies and feigning excitement wherever she went. And she doesn’t even have a passport. She doesn’t need one.
She has opened 15 bridges, launched 23 ships and no one knows exactly how many traditional dances she has witnessed.
British royals, who haven’t actually ruled anything for centuries, are basically brand ambassadors for Britain. They use their super powers, their regal glow, to persuade foreigners to invest in and visit their rainy islands.
“Royal advisers would tell their principals, ‘do not sing, do not dance, do not be seen to be drinking anything, try not to be funny because you might not pull it off,’” said Duncan Larcombe, royal editor for the U.K.’s The Sun newspaper and ABC News contributor.
Past British royal tours have been pock-marked with awkward moments: Prince Charles was filmed wearing a Rasta wig while on a 2000 royal tour in Jamaica. His father, Prince Philip, is famous for multiple inappropriate comments made to locals across the globe. The queen snoozed through a dull seminar in Deutschland in 2004. Princess Diana had to run from an amorous piano teacher in Australia in 1988. And then Charles and Diana totally, obviously and painfully ignored each other in South Korea in 1992.
“There’s always something that goes wrong, it’s inevitable,” Lamcombe said.
British royals are not alone. Several high-ranking officials and presidents have slipped up in the queen’s presence. Who could forget George W. Bush’s gaffe when he suggested the queen was 200 years old at a White House welcoming ceremony in 2008.
“You helped our nation celebrate its bicentennial in 17… 1976,” Bush told her. She glared. The crowd laughed. Bush continued. “She’s just given me a look that only a mother could give a child.”
Australian Premier Paul Keating sparked outrage among Brits after he touched the queen’s back in 1992, earning him the nickname, “Lizard of Oz.
But now that Prince William and Harry are making the worldwide rounds on Britain’s behalf, there seems to be a renewed awe for these royal tours. Largely because William and Harry are very good at it: they’re relaxed, funny and warm.
“Harry has re-written the rule book,” says Larcombe. “William and Harry have that rock star quality that others don’t have.”
It’s great news for the royals. They’ve found a great new generation of brand ambassadors — and they’ve finally found a job for Prince Harry.