Talbot Church: The royals love this sort of thing. I remember Princess Margaret's strip vingt-et-un

The Palace will be greeting ‘The Crown Jewels Affair’ with quiet satisfaction
Click to follow
The Independent Online

For those of us fortunate enough to have attended unbuttoned royal parties down the years, this week's photographs of Prince Harry, naked and yet characteristically stylish, will provoke little surprise.

Although I was not among the partygoers in the deluxe suite at Steve Wynn's Encore Hotel, my experience as a court correspondent is enough to tell me precisely what happened. The royals have always enjoyed games which involve the removal of clothes – Princess Margaret famously held strip vingt-et-un parties at Clarence House during the Swinging Sixties – and the fun-loving prince is no exception.

Far from this incident being an embarrassment, as has been widely reported, the so-called "Crown Jewels Affair" will be causing quiet satisfaction at the Palace. For some time it has been recognised that the greatest threat to the British monarchy is not scandal but dullness. As a senior equerry told me off the record, "the last thing we want the Firm to be is like some dreary Danish royal family".

With every generation, a senior Royal is designated to be what palace insiders call "the romper". Margaret set a high standard as a romper, living life to the full in Mustique where her gangster friend John Binden used to do a party trick for her which involved balancing a pint of beer on the part of his anatomy for which he was most famous.

The next generation's romper was more problematic. Because neither Charles nor Edward were up to it, Prince Andrew was given the job. In spite of carefully leaked stories about meeting his bride-to-be at a spin-the-bottle party in Ibiza, the ludicrously named "Randy Andy" was seen as one of the less successful royal rompers of recent times.

By contrast, Harry has delighted the Palace team. Brighter and more energetic than his dutiful but anaemic older brother, the party-loving prince has thrown himself enthusiastically into his romping duties with the help of what he calls his "glossy posse", a group of no-nonsense pals who include the son of Princess Katalina Esterhazy de Galantha, his best friend "Skippy" Inskip, and, of course, Isabella Anstruther- Gough -Calthorpe.

Just as his grandmother the Queen showed herself to be game for a laugh in Danny Boyle's superb opening ceremony for London 2012, so the young Prince has maintained the great British tradition of bonkers, bare-faced cheek for which we are now world-famous.

Today, as we behold what the Bard once called "a touch of Harry in the night" – a firm, virile young man doing his patriotic duty, surrounded by the busty lovelies of Las Vegas – we should be proud of our very special Romeo prince, a royal romper in the great tradition.