Prince Harry Breaks Royal Protocol for Boy With Down Syndrome
On Wednesday, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, visited Dubbo, Australia, as part of their royal tour. They were greeted at the airport by school children, among them, 5-year-old Luke Vincent, who has Down syndrome.
Vincent was the last child in the official line of children waiting to greet the royal couple as they arrived from Sydney. Vincent’s principal, Ann Van Dartel, made it clear to the children they were not allowed to touch the royal couple, as is protocol.
As Prince Harry approached the boy, he kneeled down to greet him. Vincent immediately threw his arms around Prince Harry, too quick for Dartel to stop him. Vincent then reached out and rubbed Prince Harry’s beard — a welcomed gesture by the Prince, who playfully reached out to the boy and rubbed his chin.
Australian cartoonist Warren Brown recognized the importance of this moment and created an illustration for Sydney’s Daily Telegraph. In his cartoon, a little boy with a checkered hat and glasses rubs the red beard of a content Prince Harry, who is down on one knee and the caption reads: The Duke of Sussex kneels to receive the highest honor…”
— warren brown (@warrencartoon) October 17, 2018
During the event, Vincent handed Markle a bouquet of flowers. Prince Harry asked the boy, “Can you give her a hug, too?” While Vincent was more than willing to hug the Duchess of Sussex, he returned to hug Prince Harry and rub his hair and beard once more.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Van Dartel said she was concerned when Vincent started rubbing Prince Harry’s face and hair, “But Prince Harry was completely gracious and was so polite and realized what was happening and his infatuation with his beard.”
Van Dartel explained Vincent has a fascination with beards, “His favorite person was Santa Claus, who has a beard… and now it’s Prince Harry,” she said.