This whole Prince Harry thing.
I really couldn’t get animated about the whole thing, to me the story was young lad in the army goes to Vegas on his holidays, gets a bit pissed, does something a little foolish. I mean, really, is this news? I’m betting something similar happens every night in the city, and yet this incident makes the headlines.
Well, of course it does, Harry is number three in line to the throne and we expect a certain level of decorum and gravitas from him. But there’s a dichotomy, isn’t there? We expect our princes to act like those from fairy stories, but at the same time we expect them to be ‘relevant’, we need to be able to ‘relate’ to them. So when Harry does something we’d expect a normal person to do, when he shows that he’s human and flawed, then that’s got to be a good thing, right? Well, no. Because we still expect a Prince of the realm to act in a certain manner.
Here’s a newsflash, go read some history books, because you’ll find that Harry’s actions of the other day are nothing compared to what other princes (many of whom went on to be King) got up to. Really, getting a bit squiffy and having a lark is nothing. Go read about King John and his sexual antics, go read about what George IV got up to, not only as Prince Regent, but also as Monarch, or Charles II. Believe me, Harry is a rank amateur. Rather then being castigated for bringing shame on the royal family, he should if anything be castigated for not doing enough to uphold the traditions, but then I suppose we still look at our monarchy through the prism of Queen Victoria.
Then we come to the matter of the photographs. The question is, are they in the public interest? That is not the same thing as are the public interested in seeing them.
If we demand that Harry act like one of us, then we can have no complaints if our own private foolishnesses are splashed across the media. Did we none of us do something a bit daft at some point in our past? Would we be accepting of a photographic record of this being splashed across the media? No, of course we wouldn’t, we would quite rightly accept this as being a gross invasion of our privacy. As Harry is unlikely in the extreme to be King, there is no material damage to the Crown and it’ll be another of the occasional episodes where Harry proves he is a ‘character’. He’s not a bad bloke, he works hard, he plays hard. I’ve no problem with that, I would imagine that 90% of the country has no problem with that. So no, I don’t believe these photos are in the public interest.
But dammit, this whole thing is so salacious and I want to see it. Fair enough. The genie is out of the bottle, this is the curse of the internet as well as its strength. The Palace have just discovered the Streisand Effect.
Setting aside the question of their publication for the moment, here I will criticise Harry. I have little doubt that his close protection officers did everything they could to ensure that this little party remained a private affair, but at the end of the day they are just employees, if the boss tells them to take a step back then what are they to do? They are there to make sure he doesn’t get kidnapped or killed. They are not his moral or media guardians, so if they assess that there is no immediate threat to his person, I’m betting their hands are tied.
So, assuming that Harry has told them to back off, there’s not much they can do. We must also factor in that they were not on sovereign territory, so they have no sanction. What were they to do? Prohibit people from leaving the room until they surrender their phones and cameras? Under what powers? I wonder what the Las Vegas PD or the local Sheriff’s office would say about that? That would be an even bigger story, English Prince goes to the USA and demands that local laws don’t apply to him and his party. Of course Harry wouldn’t do that, but that would be how the story would be spun.
No, he is guilty of foolishness and no more. We’ve all done it, it’s just that when we’ve been a bit of tit we haven’t had it plastered over every news outlet across the globe.
Ahhhh, but given his position he should have known better, he shouldn’t have acted like this, if this was an MP you’d be all over them, wouldn’t you?
Well yes, I would. But there a really big difference between Harry and a politician. Harry doesn’t make up stupid rules that get in the way of our lives, he doesn’t try to nanny me or tell me that he knows what is best for me. He doesn’t lecture me, he doesn’t moralise and tell me what I must think or believe.
But he’s got it easy, hasn’t he? Silver spoon, civil list, bodyguards, job for life, etc. etc.
But has he got it easy? He can’t go on holiday without it being splashed across the press. Do you have that problem? It was expected that he would join the army and be posted on active service. Was that requirement made of you? Fancy a few weeks in Afghanistan? No? Well, your grandmother isn’t C-in-C, so it isn’t a problem for you, is it? Are you expected to tour the country and beyond, having to smile all day as a choir of bloody schoolkids sing some saccharine song at you, be shown how a bloody great mixer makes bread dough, and pretend that you are interested when all you really want is to have a sit down and a smoke and cup of tea?
Is every minute of every day planned out for you, with no deviation for security purposes, where you have to glad hand this bunch of arrogant bastards who want to be seen with you so they can look more important?
Do you have to contend with endless speculation about your parentage and hear the gossip about the indiscretions of your parents wherever you go?
No doubt he’ll calm down when he marries. But who does he marry? Is your prospective choice of partner going to be scrutinised to the nth degree in the media? Is the ex-boyfriend of your current squeeze going to go running to the media sites with the saucy photos that were taken on that holiday five years ago? At the worst you’ll have to get your family to accept your prospective, well how about persuading the whole bloody country? Who’d want to go through that? The fact that the Duchess of Cambridge has come out of it smiling is testament to her. Remember when she and William split? How much of that was down to the ridiculous scrutiny she was subject to?
Easy life? Bollocks. I wouldn’t swap places with him for anything.
And remember, Harry did not ask for any of this. He did not reply to a job advert or fill in an application form. From the moment he was conceived his fate was sealed. He is as much of a slave as the minimum wage worker crippled by taxes and diktats, indeed more so. He can’t say ‘bollocks to it’ and throw a sickie, or go down the pub to watch the football, or just sack the whole thing off and be a beach bum in Cornwall. He’s trapped.
So on a human level, I’m not surprised he’s gone a bit wild in Vegas, the pressure and frustration must be immense. On that basis I’m prepared to cut him a whole lot of slack.
One final point, and it is an important one. This whole thing underlines to me why I support having a monarch as head of state. I’m not a flag waving royalist by any stretch of the imagination, but I’d much rather have a flawed, human King or Queen than a polished, spun President. It has been a long, long time since the Crown was wrested from one grip to another, and nobody who wears it has asked for it. There is something wrong with someone that wants that power, that responsibility. At least under this model we don’t have grasping, venal and transient egotist sitting at the top.
Many would argue that the monarch is a figurehead and has no power, but I cling to the hope that if the worst should ever happen, should our parliament prove to be as bad and act against the interests of the country (or significantly more than they do at present), as Charles I did (and look at what replaced him), should the monarch step in and say ‘no more’, well, ask any member of the armed forces where their loyalties lie.
The monarch, by and large, rules in our name and on our behalf. A president would rule in our name and on the behalf of their party and their own self interest.