Prince Harry 'charms' on Jamaican tour

 

Harry sprinted down the track after a false start at the University of the West Indies stadium in Kingston while a laughing Bolt jogged after him.

It was a brief dash that could generate longer-term beneficial consequences for the trainer wearing prince.

When, in dubious royal fashion, Prince Harry seized the title of the World's Fastest Man from Usain Bolt, he injected fresh global interest into an ancient institution that can, at times, seem terribly out of touch.

Diana's younger son appears at ease with himself, not something that can be said about all those who bear the Windsor name.

He's a comfortable communicator, who's sensitive and blushes easily. (Red heads do). He can dance - an ability, which several female commentators have suggested, is an uncommon male trait.

Change considered

Harry charmed those he met, but he won't have changed the fundamentals in Jamaica. The Caribbean island is on course to decide, possibly soon, whether or not to ditch the Queen as its head of state.

There's affection for the monarch in Jamaica and for her relatives. When Harry met Portia (Simpson Miller), they hugged, linked arms and held hands. The impish, blue suede shoes wearing 27-year-old even suggested to reporters that the Jamaican prime minister was his "date for the night" at a State Dinner held in his honour.

The personal is always important in politics, but for Portia Simpson Miller, it won't affect the path she wants her country to follow. Her blueprint is for a Jamaica that retains its link with the Queen through the Commonwealth, but not through the crown.

As she told the BBC, this would be next stage of a journey for Jamaica which began with slavery at the hands of the British and which will end, if Simpson Miller gets her way, with full independence and a home grown head of state.

Tourism boost

This is a debate that the royals cannot influence and which Harry steered clear of. His mission was to represent his grandmother in her Diamond Jubilee year.

To their supporters, the merits of royals on tour abroad are obvious in terms of the boost, they argue, such visits give to tourism, trade and diplomatic relations.

Their critics, including the pressure group Republic - which campaigns for Britain to follow Jamaica's potential lead and opt for an elected head of state - maintain the evidence that such visits are a useful use of taxpayers' money is scarce and the main purpose is to promote the monarchy brand back in the UK.

Prince Harry leaves Jamaica with his reputation, in the eyes of those who've encountered him, enhanced. It was his first solo tour. There'll be many more. Future ones could be more tricky. For now though, he faces a more immediate challenge.

Usain Bolt wants a re-match. London 2012 is a possible location. Prince Harry's already said he's likely to be busy.

 
Peter Hunt, Diplomatic and royal correspondent Article written by Peter Hunt Peter Hunt Diplomatic and royal correspondent

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