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Carole Malone: Better Harry up & grow up.

Byline: Carole Malone

HOW much longer are we going to be told that Prince Harry's yobbish behaviour is down to stress?

What stress, for God's sake?

He's been on permanent holiday for the last two years. He's free to do what he wants, when he wants. He has unlimited funds to squander on whatever hedonistic pursuit he chooses. And his only commitments are to his drinking buddies, who he seems to spend a damn sight more time with than his family.

And I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but how much longer are we going to excuse his loutish excesses on the fact that his mother died - seven years ago. Thousands of kids lose a parent in tragic circumstances, but few of them have the advantages Harry has to help them come to terms with it. If the absence of a parent was an excuse for delinquent behaviour, we'd have to assume the two lovely daughters of stabbed teacher Robert Symons - Melissa, two, Harriet, four - are going to grow up into monsters because their dad was murdered by a burglar. They won't, of course, because their brave, down-to-earth mum Linda will teach them decency and values and will make sure they don't grow up hating the world just because one maniac murdered their dad.

Harry is 20 years old now. And if he's man enough to get rat-arsed, smoke cannabis and go scrapping with photographers, then he's man enough to take responsibility for it.

His pounds 18,000-a-year education at Eton may not have given him much in the way of qualifications, but you'd think it might have taught him how to behave.

And there's no point in blaming the paparazzi for that almighty scrap outside a London nightclub last week. Yes, some of them are animals. Yes, one of them may even have shouted: "Who did your exams for you, Harry?" which was crass, but expected surely? But how many times has Harry sworn and given the finger to waiting photographers? How many times has he been pictured falling around drunk and hanging over women who obviously thought he was a gibbering fool? There was absolutely no excuse for him to get into a public brawl, especially as two burly minders put him into the back of a waiting car (yet another little perk of being royal). He was well out of harm's way, but blinded by beer goggles he decided to get out and start throwing punches. Not only does this prove that (on present form) he's not fit to be a soldier, but it has completely wrecked the public approval he'd gained by going to Africa to work with Aids babies - even if it was just a PR stunt to improve his bad-boy image.

Princess Diana may well have passed her hatred of photographers on to her sons (even though she often manipulated them to her own advantage) but she never gave them the satisfaction of making her look like a screaming fool.

Harry went to London's Pangaea club knowing full well it's a place which is constantly under siege by photographers because its clientele are the rich and famous. If he hadn't wanted to be photographed plastered at 3am he shouldn't have thrown two pints of tequila down his neck and he should have gone somewhere less glitzy.

As for those who say why should he, the answer is simple. Prince Harry is NOT like any normal 20- year-old.

Normal 20-year-olds are out working for a living and can't afford to go to clubs where vodka is pounds 150 a bottle. The Prince has a life of unrivalled wealth and privilege and loss of privacy is the price he pays for that. However the upside of his position is that he will never have the "stress" of worrying whether or not he can meet his mortgage or his credit card payments. He will never have to worry about a career or a pension. He can buy whatever he wants, do whatever he wants, go wherever he wants.

It's true that neither he nor Wills asked to be born royal, but they were and it's time they stopped whingeing, realised how lucky they are, and got on with it. Moreover, the time has come for the Royal Family AND the media to stop using Diana's death as an excuse every time Harry steps out of line. What's needed here is for Prince Charles to pull his finger out and start instilling a bit of discipline into his wayward son. Harry has gone off the rails because he's been allowed to and because his father has been too wrapped up in his own life to bother about his son's. Well, that's got to stop.

Truth is, we don't expect much of our royals in return for the privilege and the riches they have. We don't expect Harry to make his own money, distinguish himself intellectually or make any contribution to the society which has rewarded him for just being born. All we ask is that they behave like decent human beings with a modicum of dignity. After all, they're supposed to be better than us, aren't they?
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 24, 2004
Words:859
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