It was the sort of mingling-with-the-masses outing Princess Diana might have arranged: an expedition aboard the Channel Tunnel train, along with 600 commoner fans, to a World Cup soccer match in Lens, France. And for Prince Harry, accompanied by his father, Prince Charles, the day trip on June 26 did have its ordinary aspects. Like schoolboys the world over, he traveled without being mobbed by teenage girls. “He looks really sweet, like he has character,” said fellow passenger Annemarie Elsom, 18. (Elsom was sufficiently impressed to record the moment: “I think I got a picture of Charles’s ear,” she said.)
But if Harry, 13, didn’t inspire as much frenzy as his dreamboat big brother, 16-year-old William, might have—”Harry is cute,” Elsom decided—his day with Dad was still more royal than regular. Wearing a blue suit with a silver tie tucked awkwardly into his pants, the soccer-mad prince sat with Charles, palace staffers and six other passengers in a first-class compartment. (Eager to avoid the furor he tends to cause, William stayed in Scotland with school chums.)
While Dad caught up on paperwork, Harry spent the $206-a-ticket, two-hour trip watching the world speed by at up to 186 miles an hour, then leafed through soccer magazines before being presented with a lunch of pork pâté and poached halibut. Later, after he was whisked by limo to the VIP box at Lens stadium, he and Charles cheered England to a 2-0 victory over Colombia. The princes had little reason to fear a repeat of the fan violence that erupted earlier that week. Although the police advised father and son to stay away, the Queen’s Royal Protection Group decided the match would pose no threat, though 1,500 officers were on hand just in case.
The trip, in fact, underscored just how completely Diana’s sons are Windsors now—particularly since it took place the day before Earl Spencer’s memorial concert for his sister at Althorp. Harry and William’s decision not to attend, made months ago, seemed all the more correct as events unfolded. Though singer Chris de Burgh, who performed (along with Sir Cliff Richard and other mostly B-list acts), declared the vibes at the rain-soaked event “extraordinary,” many of the 15,000 fans complained about the high price of tickets ($63) and programs ($11). Others criticized the sale of Althorp teddy bears and sweatshirts, authorized by Spencer, who was joined at the concert by his mother, Frances Shand Kydd, sisters Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes, and his 4-year-old son, Louis.
And Louis’s royal cousins might have felt uncomfortable for other reasons. According to London’s The Sunday Times, the earl turned down Prince Charles’s request to visit Diana’s grave with the boys before the Althorp museum opened on July 1, a decision the paper said left William and Harry “disappointed and puzzled.” A Spencer spokeswoman denounced the report as “utterly inaccurate,” adding, “St. James’s Palace gave 36 hours notice to Earl Spencer of a suggested date, Spencer suggested a few alternatives, and a date was agreed on.” But the Palace, says one insider, “is furious. There should not be a requirement that Earl Spencer has to be there when William and Harry visit their mother’s grave.”
Harry didn’t have to think about any of that at Lens, and, judging from appearances, he didn’t. When player David Beckham—Harry’s pal Posh Spice’s fiancé—scored the final goal, the prince leapt from his seat, suit and all, and whooped with 20,000 other fans of England. “He was caught up in the atmosphere,” says an observer. “He was thrilled.”