Undercover Princes

undercoverprincesReality television has now proven indisputably that the emporer has no clothes -or at least the prince has no robes.

In this BBC3 series three bachelor princes take their quest for love to the extreme, discarding all the trappings of their nobility for the chance to meet the love of their lives. At home they have it all, except the opportunity to meet somebody who loves them for who they are.

The princes are (pictured l to r) Manvendra Singh Gohil of Rajpipla in north west India, Africa Zulu (yes that’s his name), a Zulu chief from South Africa and Remigius Jerry Kanagarajah from Jaffna in Sri Lanka.

When they met in a very underwhelming flat in the seaside escape of Brighton in episode 1, none had ever met. So, in Big Brother style, they had to bond. Making life more complicated they were not used to fending for themselves. One wasn’t even practised in unpacking their luggage let alone battling a kitchen stove. Shopping in the local grocery was a consumer adventure.

All three princes are so desperate for true love that they have willingly participated in this reality TV experiment. Dating shows are nothing new, but this one is genuinely intriguing. Will they find a partner, and what will happen when their true identity is revealed?

In another twist, India’s Prince Manvendra staggeringly came out as homosexual in 2006. In a country where being gay is illegal, there were calls for him to be stripped of his title. Photographs of his image were burned in a local bonfire. In Brighton he visits gay clubs while his housemates pursue local girls. But his new housemates had no idea they would be sharing with a gay prince. Africa Zulu has difficulty equating his religious beliefs with progressive society.

The three tackle everything that producers clearly liaise for them: from local jobs as waiters, bartenders and housekeepers, to internet dating, getting tips from local blokes, throwing a house party, approaching strangers in the street, hitting on colleagues and more. Their pick up lines are dreadful with such unsubtle compliments as “I like your height.” It’s fascinatingly terrible.

And therein lays the charm of Undercover Princes. De-robed of their majesty, these three have wonderfully entertaining personalities. Naive charm surpasses regal stature. Africa Zulu asserts himself as the alpha-male, Sri Lanka’s Remigius is genuinely funny (even faking that he has come home drunk, much to the outrage of Africa) while poor Manvendra suddenly decides maybe he should try bisexuality. Another meaningful household moment is nearly derailed when one prince inadvertently suggests that he has a higher status than another. That never happened on Big Brother.

As a dating show Undercover Princes is a curious social experiment that doesn’t feel nasty even though it probably should. At the end of the day all we want to meet our Prince our Princess. These three just want to meet somebody with a true heart.

4_starsUndercover Princes airs 7:30pm Thursdays on LifeStyle Channel.


  1. UnderCoverPrinces

    This series is awesome! By the way, Remi is a fake – the kingdom of Jaffna has ceased to exist since 1619. He has a nice website but his claims are just wishful thinking. Like most people he can’t trace his family tree back 400 years, but unlike most people he chooses to make it up.

    Can’t wait for series 2!

    • Seems like none could shake off their old ways for a chance at love either. And how run down was the palace in India? And we didn’t even see the one in Africa. The promo for S2 showed a prince with a hut. But the Polish prince is more of a looker.

  2. So far the gay prince (manny) has been able to pick up a date in 5 minutes without any need for pick up lines, and have the date come back to the house for some Yoghurt sucking fun. The reason for which Zulu was preaching the bible to manny over his cornflakes next day. The straight Princes have had no luck even getting a follow up date or a kiss. Me thinks Prince Sri-Lanka is a closet case as well (princess Diana was his idol) and Prince Africa Zulu is a cannibal and just wants some meat for his pot. (he says women are like hunting the enemy)

  3. Glad they’re meeting their potential lovematches ‘undercover’. It could be a bit daunting if they turned up on their first dates in their costumes above. Although the gay prince with the flamboyant headwear and robe would not look out of place on Oxford Street during Mardi Gras!

    I’m glad you posted this story David. I get the Lifestyle Channel through Foxtel so will check it out this Thursday before my nightly fix of Q and A. Will have to tape the Amazing Race now I guess!

  4. That’s great, but would be interested in watching this show. Any chance it will be on Free to Air? Or at least for one episode until it gets pulled. LOL.

  5. Whoops, I watched one episode and found it vulgar and crass, just didn’t appeal to my sense of humour. Hard to believe these guys (sorry Princes) are for real.
    The only one I liked was the Sri Lankan Prince.
    The gay Indian Prince is an idiot with too much money and status and Africa is just looking for free sex….

  6. It’s a funny show. Mani’s a classic deciding that maybe he hasn’t had an opportunity to “experience a woman” even though he was married for a year, and thinks he should try out bisexuality. His mind’s quickly changed when he brings a man home to play with yoghurt, much to the disgust of the other two princes (who in my opinion also) rightly say that someone of royalty shouldn’t be filming their sexual experiences for all the world to see, and should be kept behind closed doors. There’s my occasional prudeness and conservative upbringing coming out! No doubt he’ll be executed when he returns to India! 😉 Africa is just after a slab of meat really that he can conquer, and the other one genuinely seems like a nice guy – but at the end of the day they are all just a bit try hard.

  7. “India’s Prince Manvendra staggeringly came out as homosexual in 2006. In a country where being gay is illegal, there were calls for him to be stripped of his title.”

    If you had been following the news you would have seen that the Delhi High Court recently legalised homosexuality!

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