20 FEBRUARY 2004

With just a few weeks on the job, Prince Harry's new PR man has jumped to his charge's defence, issuing a royal reply to a British newspaper columnist who'd criticised the Prince of Wales' 19-year-old son.

Prince Charles' Communications Secretary Paddy Harverson, who is also responsible for managing Princes William and Harry's public image, rattled off a quick response to a scathing Daily Express piece by Carol Sarler headlined: "Spoiled And Lazy Harry Is One Of A Kind".

The article was overtly critical of Prince Harry's gap year agenda, which includes a prior stint as a jackaroo in Australia and his current endeavour, an eight-week mission working with disadvantaged children in South Africa.

Rebutting the "inaccurate impression" the article gave of Harry, Paddy wrote: "I am afraid that these comments make it entirely clear that Ms Sarler has little or no understanding of Harry as a person, and no knowledge of how he has so far spent his current gap year."

Mr Harverson went on to defend Prince Harry's approach to his African trip. "He has insisted it be spent working… rather than on making VIP-style visits where he simply hears of local people's problems."

The letter closes with a plea to let the young royal pass his gap year without unfair judgment. "Like any other 19-year-old fortunate to be travelling and working abroad," he says, "Harry should be allowed to enjoy and benefit from his experiences."

Photo: © Alphapress.com
After a British newspaper published a scathing criticism of Prince Harry's gap year agenda, his father's Communications Secretary, Paddy Harverson, issued a quick rebuttalPhoto: © PA
Photo: © Alphapress.com
The 19-year-old Prince spent time in Australia working on a farm (above), and is now set to spend eight weeks in Africa

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