There's nothing like a ginger-haired bad boy prince to bring a little buzz.
The fourth Warrior Games opened in Colorado Saturday, and the appearance of Britain's Prince Harry made sure the paparazzi came along. The third in line to the British throne joked with Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin at the opening ceremonies, he charmed state officials at formal gatherings, and he even played an exhibition round of sitting volleyball with British troops – with American Olympic champion Misty May-Treanor on the other side of the net.
Not a bad day's work for the house of Mountbatten-Windsor – particularly as Queen Elizabeth pulls back from public events and leaves more of the royal duties to her son and grandsons. At least there were no pictures of the prince cavorting naked with women, as there were the last time he came to the US.
"It was probably a classic example of me probably being too much army, and not enough prince," he said of the incident in Las Vegas.
Saturday, Harry could be every bit army and prince – and give Buckingham Palace no reason to flinch.
The event plays right to the prince's strengths. He's charming, and as a member of the British armed forces who has deployed to Afghanistan three times, he has a deep affection for the military and those who serve.
"I don't think yet we've seen the full potential of Harry. I think that's still to come but my goodness, he's doing a pretty good job at the moment," former press secretary to the queen, Dickie Arbiter, told the BBC.
Prince Harry already has grand visions for the Warrior Games. He said he wanted to bring them to Britain and make them an event every bit as popular as the Paralympic Games, which drew huge crowds in London last summer.
"I don't see how it wouldn't be possible to fill a stadium with 80,000 people, not to watch Olympics, not to watch Paralympics, but to watch wounded servicemen fight it out amongst each other – not on a battlefield but in a stadium," he said, according to media reports.
The Paralympics, after all, began in much the same way, as wounded veterans returning to Britain after World War II were encouraged to take part in sport as a means of therapy and building self-esteem. Now that the Paralympics – like the Olympics themselves – have become an enormous international event, the original intent has been eclipsed somewhat. That created an opening for the establishment of the Warrior Games in 2010.
As a creation of the US paralympic movement, the Warrior Games started as an event only for the American armed forces, in which each service competed against the other. Last year was the first year that British troops were involved. This year, participants from Canada and Australia will also compete. In all, there are seven sports: archery, cycling, shooting, sitting-volleyball, swimming, track and field, and wheelchair basketball.
On Friday, Prince Harry visited Arlington National Cemetery and met wounded veterans at Walter Reed military medical center. He also joined Michelle Obama at a White House reception honoring America's military mothers.