Saturday, January 15, 2005

A Royal Wardrobe Malfunction

Has befallen Britain's Prince Harry, who got himself photographed in what appears to be a very bad reproduction of a Nazi Afrika Korps uniform while attending a costume party. The reasons why the prince's choice of costume qualifies as jackassery hardly need recounting. Over half a million British and Commonwealth soldiers, sailors, and airmen got killed defending King and country (not to mention the world) against the evil represented by that uniform. For a prince of the blood to wear it, even in jest, while the deaths of so many is still a matter of living memory in his country, is jackassery of the lowest type.

Which brings us to a well-known fact, that jackasses are herd animals. Thus the Prince, by and through his public-relations wallahs (the party's theme was "native and colonial") have issued an insipid Samuel-Adams-Beer-non-apology: "Prince Harry has apologised for any offence or embarrassment he has caused. He realises it was a poor choice of costume." Any offense? Doesn't he have the slightest idea why or whether his costume might actually be offensive? Is he not sure? Does he not care? Or has he been surrounded by Mottrams, pseudo-men to whom the idea of a prince with an actual connection to his people and their history does not (cannot) occur? "A Clarence House spokeswoman said he would not be making a further, public apology despite calls for him to do so. . . . "Poor choice of costume," indeed. Why not just call it a "wardrobe malfunction" and be done with it?

Still and all, it should be remembered that this jackassery is probably born from a combination of flippant ignorance and disgustingly-misdirected high spirits. It certainly doesn't provide much cover for other members of the Jackass herd, like Labour MP Doug Henderson, who's claimed that Prince Harry has shown himself unfit to serve in the British Army. When they're in the mood, of course, the Germans can be bigger jackasses than anybody:
"A vitriolic article by the [Bild's] regular commentator, Franz Josef Wagner, which was addressed to the Prince in person added, "You, hip and cool with a swastika on your arm at your party, are about as disgusting as a mouldy piece of food. I vomit. It is high time that you were given serious medical treatment. You are a traumatised child."
And there's this howler from the brother of Germany's ambassador to the Court of St. James:
"Apparently, the British have forgotten about the victims of the Nazis more completely than the Germans; but in Britain the Germans have always been a part of everyday life as Nazi caricatures to be scorned at will. Sixty years after the end of the war, 10-year-old German children are hunted down in the parks of London for being Krauts."
Huh? OK, maybe he's got some sort of point in there, somewhere. But still, you'd think people who were seduced, as a nation by Nazi armbands and torchlight parades would have some level of maturity about all this. I mean, they've been there and done that.

Here's what ought to happen. Prince Harry, having been thrashed in the court of public opinion, should apologize with dignity and sincerity, and grow up some. This would be a good start, as would a visit to some place like this, so long as (a) the Prince makes private visits, unconnected with any memorial, and (b) they're not run by self-righteous publicity pimps eager to inflame the offense or Mottram-eunuchs intent on pretending nothing's happened. If he does it right, he can turn what looks like an appalling setback into a personal and political victory.

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