By CHARLOTTE GRIFFITHS
Best foot forward: Prince Harry arrives at Westminster Abbey... but is said to have hurt his ankle eight hours earlier after leaping from the Goring Hotel veranda
As he stood at his brother’s side in Westminster Abbey waiting for the bride to arrive, Prince Harry drew more than a few questioning glances.
Despite his smart military uniform, the young Royal appeared a little jaded, with his hair askew and a definite look of someone who had not had enough sleep.
Now a possible answer to the question of why Harry seemed a touch under par on Royal Wedding day has emerged.
Unusual exit: How Harry is said to have left the Goring Hotel hours before his appearance as best man at his brother's wedding
Sources have revealed that the best man was out socialising until 3am – eight hours before the wedding.
And he is said to have left the party venue with an athletic leap from a balcony which saw him land awkwardly on one ankle.
The scene of the raucous goings-on was The Goring, the hotel which the Middleton family had taken over in the days before the wedding on Friday, April 29.
On the Thursday evening, a group of the young Royal circle had congregated in a bar there and were enjoying themselves heartily.
The festivities came to an end only at 3am when a young copper-haired reveller casually jumped off a veranda balcony, landing with a clumsy thump on a lawn 6ft below – to roars of laughter from his friends.
Proud moment: Prince Harry accompanies his big brother down the aisle for the wedding
According to sources, that reveller was the athletic Harry, whose looming day of duty had not stopped him sharing a few drinks with friends.
An onlooker said: ‘Harry was with Pippa Middleton and Chelsy Davy among other friends for some pre-wedding drinks.
'He was the life and soul of the party until the early hours.
‘People were surprised to see him there so late before one of the biggest wedding days of the decade, and even more surprised when he jumped off the balcony – and landed with a thump.
'He had struggled to climb up the railings to get into position, so when he jumped over the edge he did so rather unsteadily and landed awkwardly next to a flower bed.
‘He flinched for just a moment before he stood up, rubbing his ankle. Then he looked up, smiled and waved to a roar of cheers before disappearing on to the lawn where there was a secret exit.
‘People were laughing and joking that his fall could have seen him walking through Westminster Abbey the following morning with a broken leg. At one point it was thought he’d twisted his ankle.
A spokesman said: ‘Prince Harry had a private dinner with his brother, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall. What he did after that is a private matter.’
Sunday, May 8, 2011
By CHARLOTTE GRIFFITHS