You have to hand it to Prince Harry of England. He knows how to turn things around. Not long ago, when he was photographed in a Nazi costume at a British bash, he looked like the latest royal pain for the queen. Andrew, Fergie and Charley had given her more than one bad year. Now, the heirs to the heir were demanding damage control.

But that was before the young prince showed up in Afghanistan as a man of arms, ready to die for queen and country.

The image of Harry in battle gear, in fact, may have been the best news for the monarchy since Prince Charles wed Diana.

It was Leslie Nielsen, in one of his movie spoofs, who introduced the queen by saying Americans thought having a queen was a stupid idea. But we are not above trading on the romance of royal figures. The Kennedys were known as Camelot, after all — not "Our Town." And Americans stayed up in droves to watch Diana marry. There he was, dashing in his carriage. There she was, dragging a bridal train the length of the 3:10 to Yuma. Announcers cooed about this being a "love match," and mothers across the land sighed as they explained this was a "real" prince marrying a "real" princess — not make believe.

Americans may think having royalty is goofy. But they tend to get goofy over the fairy tale.

Which is why Harry — the "warrior prince" — is such a breath of fresh air. Here is a real prince doing something real — risking his life at something more than driving 120 mph.

The sight of Harry ready for war calls up passages from Shakespeare and another Harry. In "Henry V," the Bard writes: "Then should the warlike Harry, like himself, assume the port of Mars." Later, Harry chimes, "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother."

Now Prince Harry's own brother, William, is gearing up for battle as well.

The queen — more than amused — must feel moved. It shows that behind feckless Charley there stand two heirs ready to buff up the luster of a crown that has been tarnished by the antics of self-indulgent, arrogant royals.