So just how convincing is this non-royal charmer? RedEye sat down with Hicks to ask him two rounds of questions: First answering as himself, then as Prince Harry. Keep reading to see how they diverge.
How did you decide to go on the show?
Matthew: I was approached via a website where I had a look-alike profile on this website and the production company emailed me through that and asked me for an interview and said “There’s a TV show coming up and it would involve a Harry look-alike, are you interested?” And so I went through an interview process and made it through, and here I am.”
“Harry”: I was approached, they said “How about it?” Who am I to say no?
Describe your perfect date.
Matthew: You should probably wait till Episode 6, that was pretty much the perfect date in terms of romantic setting. I dunno, something fun and active during the day, whether it’s a walk on the beach or somewhere with nice scenery, go for lunch somewhere cool and then follow up with a romantic evening.
“Harry”: Go on a helicopter ride to a beach somewhere and wine and dine a lady, finish with a night out in a club.
RedEye: So something a little bit more private, but then wild at the end?
“Harry”: Or the other way around. Something a bit wild and then private at the end.
Can you tell me what your ideal match would be like?
Matthew: Someone that shares similar interests, is an outdoorsy kind of girl, intelligent so you can have good conversations. you have to have instant chemistry, you can’t be hard to sit down and just chat with them, pass time easily, ... Just someone who’s active, fun, spontaneous, just up for a laugh, really.
“Harry”: She’s probably pretty carefree, not too high-maintenance I imagine, and extremely laid back because she’s going to have to deal with press issues, a lot of invasion of privacy. She’s got to be very understanding, but also respectable and presentable and suitable for a royal.
Would you rather have love, or a royal title?
Matthew: Love. I wouldn’t want to be royal, there’s way too much responsibility that comes with that. I don’t do well with responsibility.
“Harry”: Who knows ... um ... love.
Who’s your favorite member of the royal family?
Matthew: It’s got to be Prince Harry. Actually, what’s the queen’s husband called? Prince Philip. He’s fantastic, he comes out with some great lines.
“Harry”: George. Newest addition. He’s not said anything bad about me, so it’s fine.
What did your family say when you told them you were going to be on the show:
Matthew: They thought it was hilarious. Well, my brother thought it was hilarious, my dad couldn’t really get his head ’round it and my mom was like, “Aw, that’s my little boy.” Once I’d sort of explained to them and said it wasn’t going to be some sleazy show, whatever, and I said I’d maintain my integrity, they were happy, they just said, “Make the most of it, and it’s a great opportunity.”
“Harry”: I didn’t tell them. Apparently they’ve found out now, but ... .
RedEye: Do they watch much American television?
“Harry”: Only grandma. The others don’t watch any of it.
Why do you think you’ve been unlucky in love in the past?
Matthew: I don’t think I’ve been unlucky in love. I’ve had a really good past relationship with my ex-girlfriend and it didn’t work out through situational differences ... , like we moved to different parts of the country for work and it didn’t work out, but I haven’t really been looking for love since then. ... I’ve dated a few girls but not necessarily, it just hasn’t gone anywhere. I’m perfectly happy being, prior to the show, young, free and single.
“Harry”: It’s very difficult being in the limelight, I guess, for anyone who’s looking to be the girlfriend of a prince, it’s a lot of pressure, huge invasion of privacy, and whilst the girls might be interested in me, it’s a very difficult thing for them to do to constantly be in the public eye. ... And you know, they’ve got to deal with the press. You can’t always be yourself when you’ve got the scrutiny of the media on you.
If you could be any other famous person than Prince Harry, who would you want to be?
Matthew: A famous sport star of some kind, I reckon. In a team of some sort. Someone who’s won a World Cup final, like Jonny Wilkinson. He’s an English rugby player.
“Harry”: I don’t know any famous people ... who do you want? to be. I have no idea.
What would you say is the biggest thing that you have to offer for a girl?
Matthew: Unpredictable, I’m a lot of fun.
“Harry”: I think he’d probably say a good time as well, a lot of fun, yeah.
Is there anything else I should know about you?
Matthew: No, I think you got pretty much everything there.
“Harry”: There’s plenty, but that’s for me to know and you to find out.
More with Matthew:
Do you know if there was anybody else up for the Harry, or were you kind of their only pick?
By all accounts, I think there were plenty of them, there were loads of them around, so I think they got people from Australia, Canada, various other places and yeah, they sort of, I think they interviewed a few and somehow ended up with me.
When did people start telling you that you look like Prince Harry?
Probably when I was 17, 18 I guess, so five or six years ago. I think I grew into it as I sort of hit my latter teenage years.
Was it something that you saw off the bat right away, or were you kind of just like, “No, I don’t look like him”?
I mean, there’s a resemblance, but I didn’t think it’s that prominent. I think there’s an image everyone has in their head of this relatively tall, athletic guy with red hair who dresses in a shirt and chinos and smart shoes, so I think I had that image, and people don’t necessarily know exactly what he looks like, so they see this image and they’re like, “that’s Harry.”
That must be him. So I noticed in the first episode that you never specifically said that you were Prince Harry, [the girls] were all kind of just like, “Is that him? Is that him?” I don’t know if you can answer this yet, but is there a point on the show where you specifically say that you’re Prince Harry, or do they just kind of assume it?
It carries on in that vein, and I don’t say that I’m Harry.
OK. That’s gotta be pretty tough to keep up.
It was really tough to keep up. The process was relatively short when you look at it, it was what, five, six weeks or whatever, but that’s long enough to keep up the ruse and just play coy and divert and flirt around the topic without ever actually confirming.
Sure. Did you think that was the hardest part about being on the show?
Absolutely, yeah. Like, constantly. I mean, when you date someone you open up about your past, your history, your experiences, and I couldn’t do that, I had to resort to his and you know never, never really open up fully and tell them who I was and keep up the charade the whole way through.
Did you feel like you were able to get a good sense of who the girls were through that five or six weeks?
Yeah, I think so. You’re trapped in this quite intense situation, the 13 of you, initially, 12 girls and myself, and you know, you spend a lot of time together, I went on individual dates, I spent days doing group activities with all of them, and in the early days especially, I wasn’t saying anything about myself, I was just finding out all about them, you see how they interacted with each other, and yeah, I think I got to know the girls really well.
Do you think that they found it weird that you didn’t talk about yourself very much, or did you find that they kind of enjoyed talking about themselves?
No, I think anyone would find it weird, I mean, if you’re meeting someone and you’re potentially going to date them, it’s definitely weird if they don’t open up and tell you about themself. So, it was a bizarre situation, not one that you’d get in everyday life, but fortunately, they were all really interesting girls and they had done a lot of interesting things, so we had a lot to talk about, even so once we got past the small talk I could find out more about them and when they wanted to find out more about me, that was when I had to pretend and talk about Harry’s past experiences.
Do you feel like you learned a whole lot about Prince Harry through this process?
I didn’t know much before, so I learned a huge amount, yeah.
What was your favorite part about pretending to be a prince?
I don’t know, just meeting these girls who I wouldn’t normally have gotten to meet and going on the activities that we got to do, I guess. The helicopter rides, the boat rides, it was just, everything we did was an experience that I’d perhaps get an option to do at some point, but it wouldn’t be funded, it wouldn’t be with some stunning girls for company and it wouldn’t have been in the situation we were in.
How do you think that your personality is like Harry, other than looks?
From what I’ve seen we’re both quite fun-loving and laid-back and chilled out with an erstwhile charm, I guess, but noting, I don’t know, we both love sport, we’re both pretty active, so I guess that’s about it.
Were you looking for an American specifically, or was it just because that was the format of the show?
That was the format of the show, I wasn’t necessarily for an American, it’s nice to have a change from English girls, but if they pitched the same show in Australia I would have jumped on that as well.
Do you think it would have worked in England, or would girls have seen right through it?
I think girls would have seen right through it. But I mean, we see them in the press daily, we have a more exact image of what he looks like and have grown up with it whereas like I said before, I think there’s just a general image of here of that well-spoken guy who dresses well with the red hair.
Even when they saw you from afar, it was like, kind of the archetype of what girls think of Prince Harry.
Were any of the girls kind of skeptical that you were Prince Harry?
Yeah, naturally. Your automatic assumption would be that he wouldn’t go on a reality dating show, so I think everyone was skeptical initially. But I mean, they didn’t have anything to be skeptical of because they weren’t told who it was. I think they were skeptical of their own thoughts, they were like “it looks like him, but obviously it’s not going to be,” but then as the show went on, and I was, you know, playing coy and subtle hints were dropped here and there, they started to gossip. There were some who believed it more than the others, and they influenced the others thoughts on the matter. And I think as it went on, people grew more and more towards that idea that it could be him, and there was doubt in everyone’s minds. And I think it was just a very confusing situation, there were some believers, there were some dubious ones, but there was still that doubt there, and they thought, perhaps this could be.
Would you say you were looking for something serious, or just kind of looking to have fun?
I don’t think you can ever look for it. I think if it comes along, it comes along and see how it goes. If it’s the right girl, it’s the right girl and I’ll be with her in 20 years time, and if it’s a bit of fun then that’s OK with me.
What kind of stuff do you like to do in your spare time?
Sport. I play cricket, hockey, football, rugby, going out for walks. Just very active really, in my spare time. If I’ve got free time I don’t sit in and watch TV or I’m normally out and about being social, seeing friends, playing sport.
Do you think that they girls were able to get a sense of your personality as you, Matthew, rather than you, Harry?
Yeah. That was my intention throughout the whole show was, you know, persuading them I was Harry by the answers I gave. All the personality they saw when we weren’t discussing my background, my history, my schooling, military career, when it was just small talk and we were in fun situations, everything they saw was Matt Hicks, it wasn’t, I wasn’t pretending, I wasn’t using Harry’s personality, I was me throughout the show. But when asked a question, I answered as Harry. So I think that they saw the real me.
Do you think that you would ever do something like this again in the future, be a career fake Prince Harry or something like that?
I think there’s only so much mileage in the fake Prince Harry business. So, you know, if some opportunities come my way and I like the look of them, I’d obviously go to one side and have a think, and if it seemed like a good idea, then absolutely. It could open doors into the TV world, whether it’s presenting or who knows, I’m pretty new to all of this. If an opportunity comes my way and I like the look of it, then I’ll be sure to snap it up.
What are your other career goals?
I don’t know what I want to do, so that’s my issue that I need to figure out. I’m working in environmental consultancy at the minute but I don’t think that’s going to be a long-term career, that was my first graduate job, but I need to sit down and do some thinking really, because I don’t really know what career path I want, and when I figure that out I’ll have some more goals.
More with “Harry”:
How does your family feel about you dating an American?
I can’t imagine grandma would be very best pleased. I’m sure she’d want to keep it true British roots. William always seems like the quiet one but he’d secretly love it. Takes all the eyes off him. And I think Kate’d really enjoy having an American as a sister-in-law.
So what was the toughest part of living in the castle with all the girls?
Not getting to see them off-camera. I would’ve liked to have spent a lot more time with them, but as soon as we were finished the filming, the girls went one way and I went that way, it would have been fun to hang out a bit more, get to know them a bit better, and there was no sneaking around allowed.
Is Prince Harry a fan of sneaking around?
Of course he is.
What do you think that your career goals are?
Carry on doing all the charity work that I’m doing, and my military career’s done now, so find a lady who can put up with me and have a family and carry on with all the charity work.
Pippa Middleton: Do you have a crush on her?
Does she know?
I told her.
How did that go?
I got rebuked, she had no interest.