THE foolishness of Prince Harry is being treated by some as if he were just another 20-year-old with more money than sense. But he is the younger brother of the son of the Prince of Wales and, as The Times has pointed out in a remarkably frank leading article, both King George VI and King George V were in the same proximity to the Throne as Prince Harry is today before changed circumstances led to their accession.
To suggest that Prince Harry's choice of a Nazi uniform to attend a party was no more than a harmless youthful prank is to ignore the fact that by reason of his birth he cannot expect to be judged as other young men are judged.
This may seem unfair but if the Monarchy is to survive in Britain as an institution of any importance its members must act in a way that commands respect at all times. This does not mean that Prince Harry cannot go to parties but it requires that he recognises that all his actions at all times should be responsible and well-judged.
With privilege comes responsibility, something he appears not yet to have understood.
IN one sense Prince Harry can be thought to be unlucky. He just happens to be the latest member of the Royal Family to do something stupid. The number of gaffes and embarrassments of various kinds emanating from Britain's royal palaces seems endless. If the problem is not in the deed itself it will probably be in the way it is handled with the public and the media; the hurried release of Prince Harry's inadequate apology was a prime example of the latter. Despite all the efforts that Queen Elizabeth and her extended family have made to modernise the institution they inhabit and to seem less remote, the persistent image is of a dysfunctional family whose members still display outdated ideas of their status and role in British society.
It should be added, in Prince Harry's defence, that many of the manifestations of this disjunction between the Monarchy and the public are most apparent in his father's ideas and actions. However, the problem now is that the young prince has form as someone with a short fuse and poor judgement; whether the discipline of an army career will correct these faults is difficult to say. What is clear is that Prince Harry and those close to him must work hard to see that his indiscretions do not do further damage to the Monarchy.
IT is surprising to see some of the defences being erected for Prince Harry, extending even as far and as ludicrously as the New York and London hit musical, The Producers whose big number is Springtime With Hitler. As I made clear in my Viewpoint on Friday, I think it is a mistake to try to link his foolishness to the impending commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the inmates of the Auschwitz death camp, or to suggest that he should be made to visit Auschwitz as penance. At the same time, however, his casual choice of Nazi dress was a gratuitous insult to everyone who suffered from or fought against the Nazi regime.
No, there are no excuses that will wash. Quite apart from the Nazi uniform, what on earth were Prince William and Prince Harry doing at a party whose theme, clearly shown on the invitation, was Colonial or Native and which was held in a marquee decorated white at one end and black at the other? At least, it can be said in Prince William's defence that he chose a leopard skin costume for the occasion.
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