One of these days, Prince Harry's going to get in real trouble. If that happens in the states, does he get diplomatic immunity? Do princes get away scot-free?
—B. Painter, Tarzana, Calif., via Twitter
Now now: Prince Harry's naked billiards romp in Vegas, while endlessly entertaining, is over. And no other allegations, official or otherwise, have been raised about the prince's behavior while he was here. Harry himself appears to be moving on; he is expected to appear at a charity event next week.
Still, in theoretical terms, here's your answer: If Prince Harry suddenly found himself in some deep trouble here in the states, things would go much more smoothly for him than, say, you. And I have proof.
According to international lawyers, crowned heads such as Queen Elizabeth do get a special kind of status when traveling abroad. It's not diplomatic immunity, but rather sovereign immunity. Still, says attorney Bryan Sullivan, partner at Early Sullivan, the effect is nearly identical: broad license to commit pretty much any kind of crime, though that license can, and often is, revoked by a home country if the allegation is serious enough.
Now, Harry, of course, is not the head of a state or even the next in line to become one; that honor belongs to his father, Prince Charles. But, Sullivan tells me, it's assumed that other members of a royal line would enjoy similar status if they travel abroad, or, at the very least, special treatment in the event of an arrest.
"Even if sovereign immunity doesn't apply to people in line for the throne, like Harry, we would likely work with the British government if he engaged in any serious criminal behavior," Sullivan tells me.
Like what, you ask? Hey, that's what I'm here for.
"Let's say he meets some local girl in Vegas and kills her," Sullivan posits about the theoretical situation. "Police would probably arrest him, and maybe lock him in a hotel with police guards. And then the diplomats would get involved and start discussing things."
If it was determined that Harry had sovereign immunity—especially possible if he were performing official duties on behalf of the British government at the time of the crime—then a few things might happen from there.
If the allegation were serious enough, the U.K. might agree to waive his immunity (yep, like I said, they can do that), leaving the U.S. free to prosecute the lad like any other crook.
Another possibility: Harry would simply be banned from the country. The result? No more naked billiards romps again. At least, not in Vegas.