Prince Harry visits Del Mar, Solana Beach

By Claire Harlin

Around 11 p.m. on Oct. 15 when men approached Jimmy O’s manager Billy Daniels to let him know a “high-profile diplomat of foreign importance” would be coming to his Del Mar sports bar, he had no clue who it could be.

The “handlers,” as he described them, said the special guest had one request — that Daniels order the New Zealand versus Australia World Cup Rugby game, which would be televised around 1 a.m. in the United States.

“I thought it might have been some Congresswoman or foreign minister,” said Daniels. “We had no idea who it was, but we still went out of our way to accommodate the group before they got here.”

It wasn’t until a few minutes before arrival that Daniels found out his guest was none other than Prince Harry, who had caught a hip-hop and jazz show at the Belly Up in Solana Beach earlier in the night. The 27-year-old prince, an Army captain, is in town for several weeks while attending an Apache helicopter training course at the Naval Air Facility in El Centro, Calif.

The prince’s group of 10 arrived at Jimmy O’s, located at 225 15th St., just about the time bar-goers were leaving and just in time to enjoy the game with the venue to themselves.

“He was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met,” said Daniels, adding that the prince made a point to introduce himself to every member of the staff. “I’d love to let him know how much the staff enjoyed him and we’d love to have him back.”

Daniels said he served bottled water and street tacos to the group, which seemed to include about three security guards that stood back and silently watched over the after-hours gathering.

Earlier that night in the Cedros Design District, Harry could be found grooving to an all-local sold-out show at the Belly Up, featuring hip-hop group Vokab Kompany, jazz saxophonist Karl Denson and members of Slightly Stoopid.

Someone from the royal group called the music venue around 6 p.m. to set up the reservation, said Belly Up spokeswoman Meryl Klemow, and the prince’s party arrived around 8:45 p.m.

Klemow said she has met music legends such as Doborah Harry and Ludacris at the venue, but nothing compares to getting to meet and converse with Prince Harry.

“The family he represents and the life experiences he’s had and the fact that his grandmother is on currency in another part of he world,” she said. “It’s a big treat.”

She said she took a tequila shot with the prince and gave him a Belly Up hat, which he very graciously accepted.

While a few girls tried to wander into the group’s VIP area near the stage, for the most part, Klemow said, gawking was minimal.

Wearing a blue plaid shirt and a baseball cap, the prince blended into the crowd, and Klemow said his humble demeanor didn’t attract too much attention.

“That what’s so cool about the Belly Up,” she said.”Some people knew but nobody was hounding him. Everyone just enjoyed the night and the show carried on.”