A promotional picture of Fox's new show <i>I Wanna Marry Harry</i>.

A promotional picture of Fox's new show I Wanna Marry Harry.

The US television network Fox has sent 12 American women to a British stately home in the belief that they are contenders for Prince Harry's hand in marriage.

The stunt has been filmed as part of a reality television series titled I Wanna Marry Harry.

If it sounds wretched, it is: Fox is, after all, the network that brought us such dazzling hits as Who Wants to Marry A Multi-Millionaire and Celebrity Boxing.

The real Prince Harry is expected to propose to his girlfriend.

The real Prince Harry is expected to propose to his girlfriend. Photo: Getty Images

I Wanna Marry Harry was secretly filmed at Englefield House in Berkshire late last year.

The women were lured into the program in the belief that His Royal Highness, Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales - better known as Prince Harry - was looking for an American bride.

Harry, the son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, is fourth in line to the British (and Australian) throne.

Instead, they spent a week with Matthew Hicks, an astonishingly close Prince Harry lookalike.

But, ladies, there are no tiaras for second prize. By the week's end, the contestants discover that their prince isn't a prince after all, but an ordinary British man who happens to resemble the playboy prince.

The series is a twist on another Fox show, Joe Millionaire, in which money-hungry women were enticed into a dating show where the prize was a millionaire who was, in fact, just a penniless working-class guy.

Fox has filmed the series secretly, using the fake title "Dream Date". It has been produced for Fox by Ryan Seacrest's production company, Ryan Seacrest Productions.

The real prince, meanwhile, is reportedly planning an engagement to his girlfriend, 24-year-old socialite Cressida Bonas, the daughter of former model Lady Mary Gaye Curzon and businessman Jeffrey Bonas.