Young Man in Army Less than Politically Correct Shock Horror!
The first thing that needs to be said about Prince Harry's P-word video diary is that he was right to apologise |immediately the story broke and that he should feel ashamed of himself.
It was crass, stupid and offensive, and the father of the Asian soldier he called ‘Paki’ has every right to be affronted.
The problem for Harry, of course, is that he was caught. Everyone who is currently attacking him as a dyed-in-the-wool bigot knows very well — and the preponderance of white faces on TV and in Parliament proves it — that British culture still, on a day-to-day basis, considers Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis, Jamaicans and everyone else who isn’t a honky, as odd, not quite one-of-us, not quite part of the British package, and so open to off-hand, cartoon-like reference.
The words he used are more in currency among British people than British people like to admit. It’s why the media found it so easy to identify the probable target of Harry’s comment — there aren’t many Pakistanis at Sandhurst.
But as I say, he was caught. And so gave critics of the royal family and those elements who loathe the Army a very convenient — and very big — stick with which to lash out at ‘the establishment'. ‘Two for the price of one’ they must be chortling to themselves.
Demands, however, for a formal inquiry by the Equality and Human Rights Commission? Commentators gravely pondering if Harry is or isn't emblematic of our ‘racist' armed forces. Lengthy newspaper setpieces about the ‘racism’ of his grandfather Prince Philip. MPs yelling that ‘something must be done'? Like what, exactly? Cashiering him out of the Army? Making him apologise again and again until we tire of hearing his reedy Windsor tones?
Reprehensible as the video was, Harry was not behaving like some white power skinhead thug. Rather, he was being true to the upper-class thicko he is.
An embarrassing truth is that Harry acts like a callow young man whose main desire in life is simply to be accepted as ‘one of the lads', ‘a bloke's bloke', ‘sound' and all the usual Loaded/Nuts clichés. It looks like it doesn't matter much to him if being a lad implies acting like a 24-carat moron. And in some ways, who can blame him? In terms of having any sort of private life, cliché though it is, it must be difficult being a Windsor. But Harry is not just a ‘normal' royal. He is the son of Charles and Diana whose messy private lives entertained us until being overtaken by tragedy. No wonder he seems to yearn more to be ‘just like us'. Is it any wonder he struggles with social nuances?
Just look at all the lapses Harry has been involved in: underage drinking, smoking cannabis, grappling with the paparazzi, even the infamous Nazi uniform incident. It sounds like a catalogue of New Lad rights of passage par excellence.
Indeed, such is his desire to blend in, his brain — which, in true Windsorian fashion, is probably is not the size of a planet — turns to mush ... He cracked his ‘Paki' and ‘raghead' jokes knowing a camera was pointing directly at the Royal Personage. Private or not, he must have known there was a possibility that it was going to come out.
Worse, he went on to ridicule the Queen with a mock telephone call: “I've got to go, got to go. Send my love to the corgis. Send my love to corgis and grandpa. God save you ... yeah, that's great.”
One can only conclude that his desire to fit in, to be one of the lads, overrode any remaining vestiges of common sense. Just look at the rest of his misjudgements on that video. Telling ‘Dan the Man' (such originality) that he looks like ‘a raghead' (royal spokesmen insist that ‘raghead' is Army slang for the Taliban).
Bluster and banter, stupid jokes about his body and gays, Harry doesn't sound so much a poster boy for the BNP as a deeply insecure young man hiding behind a wall of wilful brainlessness. Harry-Nice-But-Dim.
Both William and Harry need to pull their socks up. The nightclubs, the drunkeness, the using of RAF helicopters for joyrides it all speaks of two young men sliding into unthinking arrogance.
Harry, in particular, needs to give himself a kick up the backside. He cannot go like this — after all, he is nearer to 30 than 20 and ‘youthful indiscretions' are only plausible for so long.
But grave chatter about the royal racist? I don’t think so.