It has all the makings of an identity crisis. To some, he is a wanted criminal. Others reckon he is in the Trump clan. There are even those who are convinced he is a country and western singer, a TV newsreader or a Hollywood actor.
While Prince Harry has ditched his Royal duties to build a billion-dollar brand on the other side of the Atlantic, it seems that few in smalltown America actually know who he is.
The Mail on Sunday asked dozens of people in small communities across the US to identify the Duke of Sussex from a recent photograph, but he was repeatedly mistaken for a different person – if he was recognised at all.
While Prince Harry has ditched his Royal duties to build a billion-dollar brand on the other side of the Atlantic, it seems that few in smalltown America actually know who he is
If Harry decides to reinvent himself in anonymity, he could move to Taft, a fading community of 10,000 about 100 miles north of his new home in Montecito, California.
‘Who is that?’ said Annalise Wills, 23. ‘I’ve no idea.’ Former teacher George Peabody, 74, remarked: ‘I think I saw him on a ‘Wanted’ poster at the post office. Or is he one of Donald Trump’s kids?’
Home-maker Victoria Pirpour, 29, shook her head. ‘No idea,’ she said. ‘I think he’s a basketball player, but I’ve no idea what team he’s on.’
Glenda Bonds, 56, said confidently: ‘He’s an actor. I don’t know his name, but I’ve seen a lot of movies, and I know I’ve seen him.’
Phillip Johnson, 82, knew better: ‘He looks familiar – is he a TV anchor? I watch Fox News all the time, I think he’s one of them.’
If Harry decides to reinvent himself in anonymity, he could move to Taft, a fading community of 10,000 about 100 miles north of his new home in Montecito, California. ‘Who is that?’ said Annalise Wills, 23, who is pictured above. ‘I’ve no idea’
Two thousand miles away in the cornfields of Ohio, residents of London, a rural enclave of 10,000, were similarly nonplussed.
‘He’s not been in my shop that I know of,’ mused Mike Michael, 65, owner of the London Coffee Peddler.
‘If you’re not buyin’ my coffee or bringin’ in a bike to fix, I tend not to care.’
Paige Gammell, 21, at the Vallery Farmhouse Bakery, couldn’t place Harry’s face until she learned he was from Britain.
‘Is he the King or something? Or Prince Charles? Or Henry?’
At the M&M Diner, Pastor Doug Huff, 53, was midway through a plateful of sausages, gravy and biscuits when confronted with the photo.
‘I know he’s high up in something,’ he said.
‘I’m divided between a social-media guy and a political guy. Or maybe a Brexit guy.
‘Did he create a lot of controversy because of his stance on Covid? Is he married to royalty?’
He was, however, sure of one thing: ‘It’s not Prince Andrew.’
In Florida, the 70,000-strong community of Delray Beach includes a diverse cross-section of rich, poor and middle class – many of whom were unable to identify Harry.
Barista Raymond Staton, 22, looked hard at the picture and said: ‘My brain says, that’s an actor – I’m thinking Chris Pratt, I’m not sure why.’
Told that the stranger was married to Meghan Markle, he was none the wiser, adding: ‘Sorry, he’s not on my radar at all.’
At the barber’s, Raymond Berkeley, 53, craned his head over the photo and said: ‘He’s familiar to me, he’s on the TV, I think. He’s married, divorced? I don’t know. Wait, he’s married – to a tennis player, actress or singer? I’m not sure.’
In Florida, the 70,000-strong community of Delray Beach (above) includes a diverse cross-section of rich, poor and middle class – many of whom were unable to identify Harry
Town ambassador Anderson Pacouloute, 36, cycles the streets in uniform to help visitors and locals. He stepped away from his duties and said confidently: ‘Right, that’s Prince Harris.’
Once the slight name confusion had been sorted, he added: ‘I recognised him from TV, but I don’t follow him at all. The last story I heard was he left England, I don’t know where he went.’
In the rolling prairies of northern Texas, the small town of Princeton, about an hour’s drive north of Dallas, is home to 16,000 people.
Many were clueless when handed a photograph of the Prince, but several did manage to identify him.
Barber Alex Vargas, 32, couldn’t quite name Harry: ‘I don’t know but it’s a prince, from Europe.’
At the laundrette, Sheryl Hamilton, 65, a retired editor, was dropping off a few loads of washing. The hot water in her home was still not working after her electricity was cut off during a recent storm.
Harry and Meghan reportedly donated to a Texas women’s shelter that was badly damaged in the storm and Mrs Hamilton had no problem recognising America’s newest philanthropist. ‘Oh, that’s Prince Harry, of course!’
Phillip Johnson, 82, pictured above, knew better: ‘He looks familiar – is he a TV anchor? I watch Fox News all the time, I think he’s one of them’
Mrs Hamilton, an ardent fan of the Royal Family, added: ‘I’m a little disappointed in what happened, how Harry and Meghan walked away, which was very similar to his great-great-uncle Edward.
‘There’s a lot similar with Meghan and Wallis Simpson, with the divorce and of course being American… and maybe liking the fame and the money.’
Asked if she thought the Sussexes should visit Princeton, Mrs Hamilton added: ‘They’re a little too liberal for me, I don’t really agree with their politics. Hopefully they won’t come to Texas.’
Additional reporting: Greg Woodfield and James Breeden