Based on Henry, Lord Lascelles (1882–1947), one of Vita's suitors, in Orlando, Archduke Harry is a comic character who acts as a foil to Orlando. Though Harry appears to be a perfect match for Orlando (he is also a wealthy nobleman who dresses in clothes of a different gender), their temperaments do not match at all. Orlando's gender change is literal; it occurs almost spontaneously and is fueled by nothing other than chance and truth. In contrast, the "Archduchess Harriet" was created purposefully to deceive. His "gender change" is not a true one; it is a comic one, when the reader remembers that Harry has is over six feet tall and has an extraordinarily long face.

Woolf uses the character of Archduke Harry to parody some of the fictional heroes of eighteenth century romance novels, who likewise do ridiculous things to prove their love. His gift of a jeweled frog to Orlando is accepted with stifled laughter. Although Harry tries to fulfill a traditional role as suitor to Orlando, she cannot bear his boring outlook and slow wit. Harry is a ridiculous figure in both appearance and behavior, and functions as comedic character in the novel.