COLUMN: Prince Harry can mix fun with maturity

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When people think of Prince Harry, they tend to think of him as a ‘cheeky chappie’.

In the last few weeks, though, the more serious side of his character has been on display.

His recent decision to take a HIV test which was streamed live on social media was, I think, an inspired one.

It’s a cliché to say a picture paints a thousand words – but it’s true.

By allowing himself to be filmed, he was able to show just how quick and simple it is.

Prince Harry is not the first member of the Royal Family to have been involved in charities that help people with HIV and AIDS.

Indeed, it was revolutionary more than 25 years ago when his mother, the late Diana, Princess of Wales, was pictured holding hands with AIDS patients in New York.

Although society has moved on a long way since then, there remains some stigma – probably based on fear – to having such tests.

The hope was that by having the test live, Prince Harry would encourage the one in six people who have HIV, but are unaware of it, to be tested.

And since he did it, the HIV charity, The Terrence Higgins Trust, has reported a five-fold increase in the number of people coming forward to be tested.

He has also opened up about his feelings on the death of his mother, saying how he regrets not speaking earlier.

He was 12 when Diana was killed in a car accident in 1997.

In a recent interview at an event he held at Kensington Palace in aid of the mental health charity Heads Up, he said that to suffer “is not a weakness. Weakness is having a problem and not recognising it and not solving that problem.”

As with being tested for HIV, by being open and honest about his experiences, hopefully, this will remove some of the stigma that is still attached to mental illness and encourage others to seek help and support where they need it.

While the Duke of Cambridge has faced speculation about his future, with comment on the number of royal duties he has carried out, Prince Harry seems to have escaped much of this.

In order to remain relevant in society, the Royal Family has had to adapt to each generation.

At 31, Prince Harry is young enough to do this but also old enough to have life experience which he brings to his role.

This, coupled with his high-profile, will hopefully allow him to continue to help others in the future.