At 5'10", Prince Charles likes to joke that he is the Incredible Shrinking Royal, friends say. The truth is that his sons seem to be guzzling Miracle-Gro. While in the past the growth has been most evident in 6'2" Prince William
, this year it was Prince Harry
's turn to scrape the ceilings at an even 6 feet—with no sign of stopping. Says a friend: "He is like a beanstalk."
Harry's added inches are not the only sign of his newfound stature. No longer the awkward adolescent who typically played second fiddle to his brother's swelling orchestra, Prince Harry
, 17, emerged this year as a royal superstar in his own right. "He suddenly seems like a young man rather than a boy," says a family friend. Now in his fourth year at Eton College—his second without William, 19, who is attending St. Andrews University 475 miles away—Harry has established himself as a well-regarded student, a popular classmate and a fearless athlete. "He skis like he plays polo," says a pal, "very daringly and very competently."
Harry's current joie de vivre is a marked difference from just four years ago, when the death of his mother, Princess Diana, left him devastated. But his close relationship with Prince Charles, 53, along with William and former royal nanny Tiggy Pettifer, 36, eventually helped Harry regain his emotional footing. "Diana used to say that she didn't have to worry about Harry," recalls Roberto Devorik, a friend of the late princess. "He will adapt to anything and charm anybody."
He has certainly worked his charms on the opposite sex, even beating his brother to the pucker by being the first to be photographed mid-embrace in April. (The identity of the blonde object of his affection remains a mystery.) Occasionally volatile ("He is not red-headed for nothing," says a family friend), Harry is more often mischievously impish, as when for a passing motorist he mimed shoveling food into his mouth after hungrily raiding a concession stand in June. In the years to come, Harry—who has not yet announced any college plans—"is going to be the fun one," predicts Majesty magazine editor-in-chief Ingrid Seward. "He will give us the headlines."