From party Prince to doting dad, Harry’s transition from his wild 20s to settling down into married 30s life has been striking. Most people have remarkable transformations as they make their way through life, but not many people are in the public eye as much as the sixth-in-line to the throne.
What changed Harry from a wild child to a loving husband? Was it timing, experience or the calming influence of the Duchess of Sussex?
Harry the Bad Boy?
Harry admitted he had wanted to be a ‘bad boy’ while at a youth centre during a tour of Lesotho and South Africa. The then 32-year-old admitted to not having enjoyed school, said he wished he could have been involved with a youth club and boasted that he had been ‘cooler’ than his older brother.
But was the Prince really a bad boy? Read on to find out…
Prince Harry as a Teenager: Underage Drinking & Marijuana
Many teenagers experiment with drink and drugs but most of them don’t have the Prince of Wales for a father. When Harry admitted to taking cannabis at age 17, his father made him visit Featherstone Lodge Rehabilitation Centre.
The Prince of Wales said he thought the experience would be educational and was concerned about his son because several heroin addicts had told him they started out by smoking marijuana.
While the Prince only spent a day at the rehabilitation centre, his father hoped the experience would make him wary of taking drugs in the future.
Prince Harry’s Nightclub Brawl
In 2004, the 20-year-old Prince got into a scrap with a photographer outside a London nightclub. According to Harry, a group of photographers surrounded him while he was trying to get into a car and one of the cameras hit him in the face. The Prince pushed the camera away and inadvertently cut the photographer’s lip.
Harry’s Costume Nightmare
Harry’s lowest moment came in 2005 when he was photographed dressed in a Nazi uniform for a fancy dress party – mere weeks before his grandmother the Queen was going to lead a Holocaust memorial ceremony.
The Royal Family issued an apology from the Prince who said he was sorry if he caused any offence or embarrassment. He also said he was aware it was a poor choice of costume.
The Party Prince Abroad
Prince Harry developed a reputation for unleashing his wild side overseas. In 2011, the Prince jumped into a pool fully clothed while partying in Croatia. Far from letting the dampness ruin his night, Harry carried on dancing and later borrowed someone’s t-shirt.
“Harry was able to choose someone based on chemistry rather than duty.”
A year later, the sixth heir to the throne was photographed naked with an anonymous woman after playing strip billiards with some friends in Las Vegas. Pictures of the 27-year-old Prince made headlines and resulted in a tense meeting with the Queen and the Prince of Wales. Harry later said the incident was a case of his being ‘too much army and not enough Prince.’
How Did Meghan Markle Tame Prince Harry?
In 2012, Harry said that finding a partner was, for him, not so much finding someone to fulfil the role but searching for someone willing to take it on.
The life of a Royal bride can certainly be tough. The lack of privacy and having to give up the freedom to do ordinary things without being recognised is not easy and not everyone has the strength of character to weather the spotlight.
Before he met Meghan, Harry had two serious girlfriends and a few flings. His seven year on-off relationship with Zimbabwean-born Chelsy Davy ultimately ended because she decided the Royal life just wasn’t for her. Cressida Bonas, who was his girlfriend for two years, also seemed happy to escape the limelight when they broke up.
Meghan was unlike Harry’s previous love interests because she was used to the spotlight, having had a successful career as an actor. She was ready to take the plunge at the same time that Harry was finally mature enough to marry.
Unlike previous generations of Princes, Harry was able to choose someone based on chemistry rather than duty. When he met Meghan, Harry was smitten. In contrast to girls from his social circle, the Duchess of Sussex did not grow up reading tabloids about the Prince which meant she was able to get to know him on his own terms.
“Harry also cut down on drinking and smoking after getting together with Meghan.”
Meghan has called their courtship ‘organic and authentic’, because they were able to spend six months getting to know each other over cosy nights in and long walks before their relationship made headlines. Harry was able to prepare Meghan for what life would be like as a Royal bride and she was able to decide whether it was something she was prepared to take on.
The Duke of Sussex also met Meghan in his early thirties when he was ready to settle down and think about starting a family. Timing is often the most crucial thing when it comes to a relationship, and Harry and Meghan seemed to be in sync.
Has Meghan Changed Harry?
Meghan is a yoga-loving health food enthusiast and has clearly had an influence on the Prince’s lifestyle. When she moved in, Meghan allegedly cleared all the junk food out of the cupboards and encouraged the Prince to eat a healthier diet.
Harry also cut down on drinking and smoking after getting together with Meghan, something his friends are reported to have teased him about at the time.
Meghan is not the only person to encourage healthy changes in the Prince, however. At his brother William’s request, Harry started therapy a few years ago where he has been able to explore his feelings about the untimely death of his mother and a life lived in the public eye.
After two years of ‘complete chaos’, Prince Harry was ready to make a change and start looking after his mental health. Now he supports mental health charities and has spoken openly about his own struggles.
Prince Harry has had a hard life in many ways. From having to walk behind his mother’s coffin on live TV when he was just eight years old to constantly being the ‘spare’ to his brother, it’s understandable the young Prince would have misbehaved just like any other young person his age. But as we all do, Harry grew up. He met a nice girl and settled down to family life. We’re excited to see how the next 20 years treat Harry and Meghan and how their different backgrounds influence baby Archie.
Watch From Hellraiser to Husband: The Life of Prince Harry exclusively on True Royalty TV to find out more about the Prince and his evolution.