January 16

Media feeding frenzy and Prince Harry

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As we all know the British tabloid press always needs a target for their own sordid ends. They have now decided that Prince Harry, who has barely left school, and who is trying to do his best, should now grovel to them-or else. Apparently his apology is not enough.

If the commentariat were genuine, they would all confess, in their columns, to the litany of errors of judgement, and worse, which each has committed , and apologise for them. Of course they won’t. Perhaps they’re still annoyed that the general public were behind the Prince when he recently disciplined one of their paparazzi?

That reminded me of the occasion when some lout threw an egg at one of Mr Blair’s ministers, who immediately “clocked “ the miscreant, much to the approval of the rank and file. Of course there were the usual suggestions that the Minister might have to be charged because he dealt with someone else’s criminal behaviour, but good sense prevailed.

The Sydney Daily Telegraph invited me to write 200 words on the current furore for its daily debate on Saturday, 15 January, 2004. They asked:

" Can Prince Harry’s Nazi outfit be dismissed as a harmless prank?"

 I wrote:

"Who can forget the small, young boy at his mother’s funeral who has grown into a fine young man, an aspirant soldier, and a worker for some of those charities Diana adored. But we have also seen those other indications of youth-the problems and the errors of judgement associated inevitably with growing up.

 In hiring that uniform he demonstrated not any attachment to the horrible ideology of Nazism, but no more than a youthful lapse of judgement. It was one which must have been indulged in by those many others who had also hired it .

But they would not make headlines, nor endure worldwide condemnation, including that of the merciless and often hypocritical British tabloid press. Harry has shown himself in his charity work and his decision to serve in the defence services his very best side. But he is human, and young, and will commit errors of judgement unacceptable in someone of more mature years.

He has the good fortune to have a father whose family so distinguished itself in the struggle against Nazism, and who will firmly require that the young man learn and understand why the Nazi swastika strikes such horror into the hearts of all just people."


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