Harry Windsor’s War

So it’s been on the news that the man formerly known as Prince (No, not that one, the Harry Windsor one) has been over in Helmand province in Afghanistan, and we’re all supposed to applaud him and say what a jolly nice and jolly brave chap he is.

Well, I’m sure he is brave. It’s somewhat dangerous over there. But with lots of other British soldiers over there (I’ve no idea of the exact number), I don’t really see why he should be singled out as being brave.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not singling him out for criticism either. I think he, and the other soldiers out there are indeed brave, risking their lives to fight for what they believe to be important. Queen and country. Or Grandma and country in his case, maybe.

But it’s not so much Harry Windsor that interests me here (save for being unable to resist a pun on the ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ theme), it’s the way it’s been handled by the media.

Firstly, that the media actually managed to keep the story quiet in the first place. Jon Williams on the BBC’s “The Editors” site talks about the News Blackout, and it’s really quite revealing.

Firstly, it was a voluntary agreement, and the British media have actually stuck to it, despite their usual desire to see pretty much anything relating to the royal family plastered over the front pages on a daily basis.

Secondly, that it’s took them five months to reach an agreement.

…the Chief of the General Staff, Sir Richard Dannatt, met editors to make the case for a voluntary agreement. He was very candid; Harry wanted a career in the Army and he needed to be able to be deployed to do what he’d been trained to do, even if it was just for a day.Jon Williams on “The Editors”

When the case is put like that — and that’s a perfectly reasonable way to think of it — it would seem to be somewhere between churlish and downright mean to prevent him from following the career he wanted. Yet it appears that’s precisely what the media would have gone on and done, if they’d not been allowed all sorts of exclusive special access.

…we wouldn’t speculate or report on the prince’s deployments to minimise the danger to him and to others. In return, we’d get access to him before, during and after his time in Afghanistan.Jon Williams on “The Editors”

The man — because that’s what he is, a man, as imperfect as any other — deserves the opportunity to be allowed to get on and live his life without being hounded by the press. Why is he deemed more “newsworthy” or more important than any other soldier? Isn’t it about time that we as a nation grew up, stopped following him around, and allowed him to start leading his own life?

2 Responses to “Harry Windsor’s War”

  1. Rachel responds:

    Isn’t it about time that we as a nation grew up, stopped following him around, and allowed him to start leading his own life?

    Here, here! The politics of the war are a different matter entirely (personally I don’t agree with the war, but that’s the subject of an entirely different discussion) but the fact remains that he’s a soldier, and that’s what he’s trained to do.

    The fact the media agreed to the blackout is a minor miracle (though that they took five months to agree to it isn’t much of a surprise), and the media has many faults, but while ever there’s an audience voraciously waiting to devour every detail of the Royals’ lives, and anyone else in the public eye, the media are going to continue to stalk their every move justifying it with the “it’s in the public interest” line.

  2. Karl responds:

    I’m amazed they kept his deployment a secret for so long given the fact that the blackout was voluntary and that independents from around the world wouldn’t have known about the agreement.

    It’s somewhat dangerous over there.

    Made me giggle this, thanks.

    I don’t really see why he should be singled out as being brave.

    Nothing in it other than he’s been the focus of his own news item because he’s a member of the Royal Family. If you watch enough news about the guys in ’stan and in particular Ross Kemp’s excellent series with the Royal Anglians you’ll hear the word brave used a lot.

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