Prince Harry’s unfortunate choice of fancy dress demonstrates a lack of knowledge and perspective. Something should be done to awaken in the prince and his contemporaries a solidarity with earlier generations.
I have a friend in New York City employed as a senior picture editor by one of the major photographic agencies. Although he is nearly 70 years old, he has kept his job way past his retirement date, despite company policy to the contrary, because he’s the only person in the building who knows Who’s Who in all the old pictures from the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s.
To his 20-, 30- and 40-something colleagues his knowledge and perspective is invaluable. Perhaps the Royal family should consider employing someone similar.
The fact that Prince Harry chose his sartorial Armageddon in the company of his brother and another friend (who went to the same party dressed as The Queen), tells us a surprising amount about the generation currently at university and/or (or not) Sandhurst…
For my parents, and probably yours, the devil wore swastikas and built gas chambers.
This iconography and value system was convincingly passed to my generation through the “War Picture Library”, The Great Escape, The Diary of Anne Frank and numerous small plastic Afrika Corps personnel who died in their scores beneath the Hoover.
It may have taken the series Holocaust and the Steven Spielberg movie Schindler’s List to bring the horror truly home to me and many others like me.
William and Harry? I doubt they even paused in the fancy dress shop. Nazi regalia might as well have been Samurai robes, Cavalier feathers or Norman chain-mail.
Prince William went as a black panther, the big cat, but it might as well have been the militant civil rights agitator, so far as he or his brother might have known.
In one way it’s tragic. It represents the failure of an education system prone to teaching British and world history as a series of opinions and perspectives instead of a catalogue of facts and dates.
In another way it merely teaches us the essential lesson that the old order is always passing, always has been, always will be, and what is about to replace it always looks highly dubious at the time, whatever date or period of history you care to visit.
Nevertheless, Harry committed a foul, and so did his friends for not waking up and talking him out of it. And so did their host, the multi-Olympic gold medallist Richard Meade OBE, who, as a not-unsophisticated family friend, could have been the longstop which saved the boundary.
But this one went for six, high over the line, probably into the majority of newspapers on the whole surface of the planet. (What must it have earned its creator? But that’s another story)
So how to turn this around and be on the PR front foot? Don’t hide away and wait for the heat to die down.
Personally, I think a TV production company should step forward and offer to take the princes on a journey, both of them perhaps, and their friend still in his Queen outfit, possibly by cattle truck, to the sidings in eastern Europe where the horror originally unfolded 65 years ago. Where the true meaning of the armband he was wearing for fun might reveal itself.
Their discovery might teach all his contemporaries to understand how offence was caused, and awaken in them a solidarity with earlier generations.
Surely their royal blood would give them a sense of historical perspective? Hysterical, more like.
Just one proviso, Harry. If your Uncle Edward volunteers any help, make some excuse and get down the pub pronto. Tell him you’ve gone straight to the BBC.