British royals Prince Harry and Prince William — without William's wife, Duchess Kate Middleton — have descended on Memphis, Tenn., for a weekend wedding, which could turn into a booze-filled bash since the groom-to-be is British bad-boy club entrepreneur Guy Pelly.
Pelly, due to wed Holiday Inn heiress Elizabeth Wilson, has often been called a “bad influence” on the princely brothers.
The 31-year-old has been a friend and confidant to the royals for about 20 years, and even has some regal blood himself, being a distant relative of the Earl of Pembroke.
But Pelly, who first met Prince Harry through a fox hunting club, has become famous as a hard-partying club promoter. In 2012, his driver’s license was revoked after being caught by police going a whopping 129 mph in a souped-up Audi R8 sports car in Salisbury, England.
"If anyone is going to be led astray, it’s Harry. That’s sort of quite well known about him."
The Kensington native also helped organize Prince William's bachelor party before he married Kate, and was expected to be the godfather to their baby George — although he ultimately wasn’t chosen, likely because of his roguish profile.
So it’s predicted that this weekend will be quite festive for the princes — especially Harry, who recently broke up with his girlfriend — though many royal watchers say all of the boys have matured, for the most part.
“Is he a bad influence? Well, he’s not a good influence, let’s put it that way,” British writer Tom Sykes, who pens “The Royalist” column for the Daily Beast, told NBC News.
Yet, he added, “I think they’re a bit beyond bad influence and good influence. Harry’s 29, William’s 31.”
But, he noted, “if anyone is going to be led astray it’s Harry. That’s sort of quite well known about him. Harry’s quite impetuous, and he does have this reputation for liking to get drunk, really.”
Sykes said Pelly has a very charming quality.
“People really like him, he’s really an amenable kind of guy — in the way nightclub promoters typically are.”
Sykes noted that Pelly famously streaked at a polo party that Prince Charles attended, but most of that sort of behavior happened a long time ago.
"Pelly has always been considered a bit of a live wire, hence why is often described as the ‘court jester’ of Harry's inner circle."
“He’s cheeky funny, but very British, sort of school-boy, idiotic — it’s not like he’s doing (hard drugs) … He likes being a provocateur; he likes kind of rattling the cage a bit.”
Pelly has been involved with a few clubs in the swanky Chelsea neighborhood of London, and was known for allowing his royal friends to let their hair down in private VIP sections without getting too much paparazzi attention.
Camilla Tominey, the Royals Editor for London’s Sunday Express newspaper, agreed that the princes and their friend have likely grown out of the sophomoric behavior.
“He's not really considered a bad influence now they have all grown up, but when Harry was a teenager Pelly was blamed — wrongly, it later turned out — for introducing him to cannabis,” Tominey told NBC News.
Rex Features via AP
Lizzy Wilson and Guy Pelly in London in March.
“Pelly has always been considered a bit of a live wire, hence why is often described as the ‘court jester’ of Harry's inner circle,” she added. “He remains very close to both William and Harry, because despite his sometimes bad press he has remained resolutely loyal to them both, has never spoken out of turn and discretion is the one quality the princes value most.”
Speaking of discretion, details of the actual wedding and surrounding festivities have been predictably scarce.
The wedding will take place at the Memphis Hunt and Polo Club on Saturday, and the royals are staying at the Peabody Hotel in Downtown Memphis, according to local NBC affiliate WSMV.
A spokeswoman for the Peabody said they do not discuss guests as a matter of policy, and the Memphis Hunt and Polo Club did not answer calls for comment. Buckingham Palace also is not commenting on the royals schedule this weekend.
Jack Erb, president of the Memphis Polo Club — which is not affiliated with Memphis Hunt and Polo Club — said the wedding had people all over town talking, but with few facts.
“People talking about it, but no one really has any idea,” he said Thursday. Everybody thinks they're coming, but nobody's even sure who’s coming — the people who know have been sworn to secrecy.”
On Friday, the royal brothers received a private tour of Elvis's mansion with some of the wedding party.
Darren McGrady, known as the "The Royal Chef" since he cooked for Queen Elizabeth, then Princess Diana and her sons when they were young, said the boys love barbecue, for which Memphis is famous.
"They love ribs and they love beans," McGrady told NBC News. "They like corn on the cob and loaded potato skins."
McGrady said even when the boys were younger, Harry was known as the one who needed to be looked after.
"Diana used to say, 'The palace will take care of the heir, I've got to look after the spare,'" he said.
Meanwhile, Prince Harry was reportedly spotted partying in Miami on Wednesday, ahead of the wedding, having just broken up with 24-year-old Cressida Bonas. Harry and Bonas met two years ago.
Some reports said they split up because of the stress of dating a royal in general, others cited the Memphis wedding as a breaking point.
Either way, Sykes noted the Southern nuptials may be just what the bachelor prince needs.
“Maybe Harry can catch some American girl’s eye, maybe that’s the answer,” said Sykes. “It’s going to be a good party.”
First published May 1 2014, 1:45 PM