Monday, 27 August 2012

We're Just Wild about Harry...

So the exploits of Prince Harry in Las Vegas continue to fill inches of newspaper space in the UK and the pictures of him naked (gosh, the horror!) in The Sun heaped a pile of steaming ordure on that publication which deserved it so royally (pun intended).

I've been to Vegas with Mrs Stodge five times and a sixth trip is planned. Everyone knows weekends in July and August are filled with groups of young men and women who use Vegas the same way British youngsters use Ayia Napa and Ibiza. Parties and alcohol dominate - Harry is, to be fair, not exactly 21, and frankly he's a bit old to be playing the Club 18-30 games. He's unattached so if he wants to go off with some girl, I don't quite see the problem.

Harry's "fans" back in the UK have unsurprisingly leapt to his defence - he's just a youngster having a bit of fun, they say. Others are more concerned with potential security lapses but the mood here has been to castigate the American girls who took the naked pictures and sold them (or tried to) to various media outlets.

The uncomfortable truth is that Harry is the product of his upbringing and his environment. The tragic death of his mother and a life in the Army has left him, in my view, an emotionally dysfunctional individual. Harry has the culture and mores of a squaddie - outside the barracks, life is a bit of fun, girls are to be chased, drinks are to be drunk. Had Harry been an ordinary squaddie rather than third in line to the throne, we wouldn't even be talking about it.

I think it hugely regrettable that BOTH William and Harry were packed off to the Army as quickly as possible. It would have been nice for one or both of them to have had a more "normal" job such as in business and a more consequently normal lifestyle. Whether it's some arcane tradition or based on security fears and concerns, young royals of any significance are packed off to the Armed Forces.

Part of the problem between the Armed Forces and civilians is this sense of elitism and remoteness. I don't know any serving soldiers socially - they seem to me to be a closed, defensive, rather unpleasant group of individuals holding extreme Right-wing individuals. It's no surprise that the Conservative Party has in its Parliamentary grouping a number of ex-Army officers or other serving soldiers.

There was a time when the Church of England was described as the "Tory Party at prayer".Now, it seems that the Armed Forces has become the militant wing of the Conservative Party.

It would do Harry no harm to leave the Armed Forces now and try and build a life for himself in the "real" world. If he can bring his military training to business and commerce, he should be successful.

Unfortunately, the very real possibility is that like his Uncles Andrew and Edward, he will end up as neither use nor ornament and remain the periodic fodder for tittle-tattle and gossip columns.

His mother would be so sad.

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