Soon after world wide praise for the superbly organized London Olympics and widespread concern over the health of doughty Prince Phillip, attention has now switched to the antics of a younger member of the royal family.
The Week reports:
WITH a collective groan, the British press has restrained itself from publishing pictures of a naked Prince Harry playing strip billiards in Las Vegas after threats of legal action from the Royal Family.
But if they can't use the photos, what with Prince Charles's lawyers on the prowl, and the shadow of Lord Levenson looming large, they can still write about them.
Not for a long time have Fleet Street's finest had so much to say about a couple of mysterious grainy snaps – which, all the time of course, are only a click away on TMZ.com.
For The Daily Telegraph, Jenny McCartney produces 466 words – a creditable effort considering she is "finding it rather difficult to care" about the prince's antics which are "broadly in keeping with his age and persona".
Harry is "kind-hearted and eloquent … hard-working and courageous", says McCartney, but he's almost 30 and it is time to calm down before "youthful hedonism gives way to something that looks rather more sleazy".
Almost doubling McCartney's tally with an impressive 822 words, Harriet Walker writes for The Independent that Harry isn't the first prince to have disported himself like this - but "Nell Gwynn, Mrs Fitzherbert and Lillie Langtry didn't have camera phones".
Under a picture of Harry watching sport, she writes that illustrating stories about the Vegas pictures with more innocuous photos of the prince – which is what British papers have had to do so far - is "like illustrating an article about the beast of Bodmin with pictures of a tabby cat".
"Why should we respect his position and his privacy, when he clearly doesn't respect it himself?" asks Walker, before concluding that the photos "will do Prince Harry's reputation no harm" though the incident speaks "volumes of his patrician dopiness that he thought he'd get away with it".
The winning columnist, by a country mile, is former Tory spin doctor Amanda Platell who manages a heroic 1,105 words for the Daily Mail. Speculating that "Prince Charles probably hasn't seen his son naked since he was a baby," Platell opines: "How disappointed the Queen must be…"
Generously, she says, we have "made allowances" for Harry since "Diana's tragic death". While "Harry should have known better" she feels others are also to blame, asking: "Who on earth advised the third in line to the throne to indulge in some ‘full-on partying' in the world's self-styled capital of sleaze, Las Vegas?"
Could this be a subtle pitch from the former PR for a job at the Palace? She concludes with some salutary advice for the young prince: don't turn into your uncle, "Airmiles Andy" the "royal wastrel". •