Prince Harry has transformed enormously over the years. According to Angela Levin, the author of Harry: Conversations With The Prince, this gingerhaired maverick has grown from a shy toddler who hardly spoke to a rebellious party boy, and has now morphed into a responsible, charitable figure – currently planning his nuptials to American actress Meghan Markle.
According to Angela, Harry suffered from extreme shyness growing up and found preschool particularly traumatic.
‘At break time... he initially refused to join in the games and when another child approached him he’d run away, hide in a quiet corner of the playground, or sit by himself on a bench – often close to tears,’ she reveals.
‘It was equally difficult to get Harry to speak to the other children and even to his teachers. He also rarely held up his hand in class to ask to go to the toilet. Instead, the teachers had to look out for him wriggling and with a pained expression on his face, before taking him to the bathroom. His vulnerability made him an easy target for bullies, especially as he didn’t fight back.’
But when Harry started primary school, he began to show signs of rebellion – particularly when he bolted from the palace and ran off to a record shop in Kensington with a borrowed police radio.
‘It was an early example of Harry’s recklessness – one moment he would be behaving, and the next going off the rails,’ says Angela.
‘As he grew older, a combination of lack of self-control, poor judgment and too much alcohol resulted in him, for example, wearing a swastika at a fancy-dress party, taking off all his clothes during a game of strip billiards in Las Vegas, and jumping from the balcony of the Goring Hotel the night before his brother’s marriage.
‘It is, perhaps, one of the reasons why, until a few years ago, it looked as if Harry would become the worst possible young royal role model. He ran with a wealthy fast set and partied with too many scantily clad women. Although some of his bad behaviour was typical of a teenager, behaving like an adolescent in his late twenties became a cause for concern. Harry admitted to me: “For too many years, I just didn’t want to grow up.”’
But today, after spending time in the armed forces and visiting impoverished children around the globe, Harry is all grown up and a passionate advocate for charitable causes.
Alongside his soon-to-be wife, he’s predicted to take a lead in royal activities – particularly continuing his AIDS-related work in Africa and promoting the Invictus Games.
In her book, Angela cites a quote from Harry about how he believes he became who he is today: ‘Because of the process I have been through, I’ve now been able to take my work seriously, been able to take my private life seriously as well, and been able to put blood, sweat and tears into the things that really make a difference and things that I think will make a difference to everybody else.’
Harry has always had a strong bond with Princess Diana.
‘Harry didn’t have the unenviable role of man of the house, but when William went to boarding school, Diana sought comfort in his presence. She took him with her whenever she could and particularly if there was a royal family event she had to attend. Once there, she would often cling to him like a human comfort blanket. She showered him with love and kisses, and the bond between them grew even stronger,’ explains Angela.
Diana saw herself in Harry.
‘Harry’s the naughty one, just like me,’ Diana once said.
And Harry has also expressed the attributes he has inherited from his mum. ‘Everyone needs a hug now and again, and it just so happens that I’m very good with hugs,’ he laughed.
‘There is so much passion inside of me that I can also give to other people. It is how I can relate to individuals who have got themselves into trouble. Sometimes I can have too much passion fired up and I get impatient to get things done. It has got me into trouble...’
Harry was also deeply affected by his mum’s death.
‘He told me that losing his mother had “quite a serious effect” on both his personal and professional life, and left him in “total chaos”,’ says Angela.
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