When you strip everything away, the fact is that we love Harry
Published 29/08/2012 | 08:00
If we didn't know it before, we certainly know it now.
Prince Harry can get away with anything.
Only a few weeks ago, the nation was impressed by the young man's bearing as he represented the Queen at the Closing Ceremony of the Olympics.
In Jubilee year, with loads of very worthy charity commitments and after the wedding of his brother, it seemed Harry had turned the corner into respectability. Soldier to the nation, wingman to his brother, affectionate shoulder for his sister-in-law, trusted grandson of HMQ. It was all there at last.
And then he went to Vegas. There, as with so many other young (and not so young) men, Harry came a cropper and all the old misjudgements of earlier years came flooding back to haunt him.
The internet has been rife with speculation about what went on in the royal suite during those fateful hours. Some photos have already been leaked, more are threatened. Rampant six-pack baring and stag-type partying while his grandfather lay ill in hospital really won't play well with the public. Neither will dragging personal security officers from the Met (on limited publicly-funded expense accounts) through cocktail lounges.
Nonetheless, through it all, Harry has managed to come through with dignity intact. It's almost as if some lookalike has been trashing his reputation in nightclubs while Harry himself has been safely at home in bed. He comes back to Britain with a look that says, 'Those pics are faked. It's obviously not me. I'm a member of the Royal Family, for Heaven's sake. I've got responsibilities'.
It helps that his trooper's physique is so, er, trim. It also helps that he had the good sense - we hope - to keep yer actual crown jewels well protected, as it were. That might be a bit too much with an Ulster fry.
But what really saves the fellow is that he is so personable, so clearly without side, and so happily not what we thought he had become, far before his time.
If he wants to know how embarrassing acting younger than one's years can be, he should consult his beleaguered Uncle Andy. We all have them.
Sometimes, within reason, it's just as inappropriate acting older than one's age.
Harry is still a young man.
That's one problem the nation can be sure time will cure for good.