Prince Harry Remark by Gila Bend Mayor Ron Henry was Made Up, Tabloid Admits; Mayor Releases Letter by Prince
The Daily Mail published an apology and correction on December 11, after Henry took the young prince's advice in a handwritten letter to lodge a complaint about the "ghastly British media" with the U.K.'s Press Complaint Commission. (Bet some of you wish they had such a thing here...)
Henry tells New Times "the press frenzy" caused him to wait until now to release Prince Harry's letter (scroll down), which is dated November 8, the day the Mail's original story was published. Harry left Arizona late last month after finishing up a few weeks of military helicopter training at the Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field.
Henry came off looking off like a Bible-thumping party-pooper in the Mail's story, supposedly saying some of the dads in his "Christian" town "won't take too kindly to a Prince fornicating the night away." In the resulting shitstorm from the local and worldwide press, Henry responded that he'd been "preoccupied" during the interview with the Mail's reporter and that his quotes had been fabricated.
The mayor tells New Times he wanted to ignore the article, "but when the letter was delivered by (Prince Harry's) security I decided to give it a shot. I made the complaint and a response followed."
The Mail wrote:
In an article of 8 November we carried in good faith a news agency report that said Mayor of Gila Bend, Ron Henry, had warned Prince Harry not to 'fornicate the night away' whilst on an army posting to the Arizona town.
We would like to make clear that Mr Henry did not make this statement and apologise to him for this error.
The Daily Mail changed its article, removing some of the quotes attributed to Mayor Henry, but left most of it intact.
The correction and apology made a pebble-sized splash compared to the tidal wave of Internet chatter that followed the November 8 article. A "Tabloid Watch" blog has so far noticed the correction, pointing out that Britain's Sun newspaper, which apparently relied on the same unethical reporter for its quotes, is still running with the story.
Prince Harry's letter first thanks Mayor Henry for the "fantastic hospitality" he and the other "British soliders" have received in the southern Maricopa County town.
"I also understand that you have been 'trapped' by the ghastly British media, and therefore been misquoted no doubt which I'm sure wasn't expected."
Harry writes that he's passing on the complaint commission's contact info, then mentions that although he can't visit Gila Bend Elementary School, he was "sincerely touched" by the letters students had sent him.
He signs off, "I hope our training isn't too noisy?! Kind Regards, Harry."
He might have meant this facetiously. Even a cohort of Apache helicopters can't compare with the scandal-mongering British press for noise.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.