What Is The Point Of William And Harry Windsor?

To mark twenty-five years of British Esquire, we recall twenty-five men who have shaped the country in the years we first went to print.​​ Here Mick Brown argues how the royal brothers have risen to the demands of unwanted fame

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But what, you might ask, are they actually for? It's easy to be sceptical about the two princes. Privileged, rich, leading a life of indolence and ease, with burdensome royal "duties" that seem to consist of little more than smiling on cue for the camera — not much cause for sympathy there, it might seem. 

But consider this. Your mother, elevated to the status of a secular saint, dies when you are 15 (in William's case, 12 in the case of Harry). Rather than being allowed to grieve in private, duty — the old-fashioned word that will come to dominate your life — demands that you walk in the funeral cortege, in the full scrutiny of a global television audience estimated at 2.5bn people. Thereafter you are the property of the world. Your life, quite literally, is no longer your own. Your future is pre-ordained. Your every movement and utterance is scrutinised and judged. You are fawned over and criticised in equal measure. Your girlfriends will be subject to the same rigorous scrutiny, and found wanting; your indiscretions the stuff of public amusement and faux outrage. If your name is Prince Harry, what happens in Vegas has a snowball in hell's chance of staying in Vegas. 

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As the likely heir to the throne, Prince William has done what Prince William was supposed to do. European princesses being rather thin on the ground these days, and in the spirit of egalitarianism the spin-machine behind the Royal Family is keen to promote, he has married
a nice, sensible, middle-class English girl and produced two children who will ensure the continuity of the crown and be a boon for retailers of children's clothes, manufacturers of postcards and commemorative mugs and plates as well as the paparazzi for years to come. 

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Stolid and utterly conventional, he is as comforting a fixture in the national psyche as The Great British Bake Off

Life is more difficult for Harry. Fifth in line to the throne, his is a life where he has to invent something for himself. Initially this seemed largely to consist of playing the essential role of the troubled child — smoking dope, falling drunk out of nightclubs, wearing Nazi outfits to fancy-dress parties, being linked to a succession of pretty, and not altogether suitable, young women. But recently, in that way you sometimes do with public figures, more and more nowadays
I find myself rather liking Harry. 

The missteps have made him all the more human. More than the forced show of being "fun" that it is necessary for any royal to summon when the occasion demands it, he appears to have a genuine, irreverent sense of humour. He has his mother's common touch, and her touch of showbiz. He is touchy-feely, but in a spontaneous and unembarrassing way. He seems a decent man, as his support for servicemen, his creation of the Invictus Games demonstrates. He wears his privilege lightly. 

If the world admires William, it loves Harry. What are they for? Essentially to be the best possible public relations men that the Royal Family, and by extension the country, could possibly wish for. Neither chose to be a prince, but having drawn the short straws, both, in their own very different ways, do it rather well.  

The special 25th anniversary of Esquire is out now.