Sophie Heawood: Let's crown Harry king, and skip all the rest

  • @heawood

Pigs do not fly. The sun has not yet burnt out. The cloning of human beings remains more problematic than that of sheep. In short, we remain in a vaguely familiar universe, and yet I find myself looking at pictures of Prince Harry dancing the samba in Rio and experiencing great waves of fondness for him, and thinking that, if we must have a king, can't we skip both Charles and William and put the jewels straight on the ruddy little ginger brother?

He's in Brazil to promote tourism to Britain, and, given the challenge of going to a beautiful hot city full of beautiful half-naked people on beaches and telling them to spend a grand flying to Blighty, he seems to be doing rather well. David Beckham is with him too. "That's David Beckham," he told his enthusiastic audience at one event. "Apparently he used to play football." Which is quite funny. He went on to make jokes about how his father Prince Charles seems strangely unable to forget his memories of dancing with a scantily clad Brazilian dancer at carnival, and his relief at his brother William not being there, because he might start dancing, "and that would really not be cool".

Then there was his trip to Jamaica the other day, where he seems to have quelled the separatist urges of a nation itching to leave the Commonwealth and take his mum off the stamps. His thank you letter, praising Jamaicans for their "awesome" country and "cool" people, was rather sweet.

The campaign is called Great, and has apparently cost £25m, to give the UK a special push overseas in light of the London Olympics and Queen's Diamond Jubilee this year. It hopes to attract an extra 4.6 million visitors and an estimated £2.3bn visitor spend to the UK over the next four years. Like Victoria Beckham and her range of dresses that are actually very brilliant, finally giving her a solid thing that she does and is good at, Prince Harry as overseas brand manager is a stroke of brilliance. (Although, as I write this, he is about to play beach volleyball with Brazilian women, an event which could either end in some jolly photos of the Prince chucking balls at bikinis, or several unplanned pregnancies and a drawn-out paternity suit.) Still, as long as he does better than his Uncle Andrew and doesn't get stripped of his title after complications with funds, we should be all right.

The campaign claims that tourist figures will be boosted by Harry's ability to "get the party started as only he can". For once, the claim seems justified. Clearly, the Royal Family has finally realised that, rather than endlessly trying to make young Hazzer quieten down and behave himself sticking square pegs into round holes, it should capitalise on what he's good at. Harry is good at making jokes in public, grinning at women, rubbing his hands together enthusiastically like a cricketer about to bowl, and making merry while the sun shines. And thus, Brazil! Jamaica! Whoever planned these trips is a genius.

I'm not dismissing his previous antics: the Nazi fancy dress costume, the racist name for his fellow soldier – awful. He was a privileged idiot, and hurtful to many. Time will tell, but perhaps he's finally getting there.

Every time you say we don't need our royals, the monarchists always tell you that they're worth the cost and the palaces because they bring in so much tourism. So it's nice to see them being put to work doing it so literally. The Queen is said to have said of Harry, "My grandson is a pain." Let's see if his skills at beach volleyball can turn her opinion around.