Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Sunday, 29 April 2007

Send Harry to Iraq, or send the monarchy packing

Tristram Hunt of The Observer couldn't be more spot on:

These must be nervous days for the Queen but if Britain's monarchy still has any serious meaning left in it at all then Prince Harry should be despatched to Iraq. If he is barred from serving with his Blues and Royals regiment then there remains little point in holding on to the Royal Family...

Cornet Windsor is in the army, in a combat unit, and that's what people in the army do. Any plans to rescind his six-month tour will undermine both Harry's own sense of self-worth and the vital connection - of loyalty, service and sense of nationhood - which still exists between royalty and the army.

Militarism and monarchy have a long history. For a prince, war provides a moment of rare power and equality. One needs only think of that other Harry on the fields of Agincourt on 25 October 1415, displaying an unrivalled example of regal machismo - artfully garnered into national myth by Shakespeare:

'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he today that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,

This day shall gentle his condition:

And gentlemen in England now abed

Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.'

This celebrated, eve of battle speech has more than a casual relevance to today's Harry: the allure of war; the brotherhood of combat; and the self-loathing of those spared the fight. Modern soldiers trained for, then withdrawn from, combat find it equally hard to continue their careers within the army. Like Shakespeare's English gentlemen, they too often think themselves accursed. Or as Harry less felicitously put it: 'There is no way I'm going to ... sit on my arse back home while my boys are out fighting for their country.'

It is has been a long time since a king led his troops into battle - George II at the battle of Dettingen in 1743, during the war of the Austrian Succession. Yet heirs, and most especially the spares, continued to serve. From the Duke of Clarence (the future King William IV) in the late 18th century to Prince Andrew, Duke of York, in the Falkland Islands war, the armed services have proved efficacious careers for otherwise aimless princes. Moreover, royal involvement remains important to regimental ethos. Hence the extraordinary military ardour for the late Queen Mother. And it works both ways.

Even in today's 'value-added monarchy' (as the Prince of Wales's private secretary, Sir Michael Peat, prefers to call it) the military is more than just outdoor relief for the third in line. The armed forces constitute one of the cultural props of the royal family. Not only do members of the armed forces swear allegiance to Her Majesty, but their very meaning is bound up with the monarchical ideal.

The armed services are above and beyond politics: their calling is to country not party. Their ethos is one of duty and public service. Officially an organ of the state, the military is part of civil society with its Royal British Legion clubs, county museums, historic regiments and regional affiliations. The patriotism, implicit Protestantism and ethic of obedience the military embodies is regarded as a bulwark against the kind of self-gratifying, materialist spirit of the times.


redtown said...

I disagree with the writer on two counts.

One, there are bigger national concerns here than Harry’s admirable desire to prove his loyalty and courage. If he goes to Iraq, he will become a target of the enemy, causing extra danger to men under him, and intolerable consequences to national policy-making and war strategy. This is not 1415. HM Grandmama and the PM should tell him in no uncertain terms that he’s not going. This isn’t just about Harry.

Second, the writer’s argument -- that not sending Harry to Iraq would prove that the Monarchy is not needed -- is specious. This situation is no different than if a Republican government decided to not send the President’s son for the same reasons.

Harry should not go to Iraq. Sometimes the nobler part of valour is self-restraint.

Dick Turpin said...

For gawd’s sake, let the lad go. It seems to me that the sole ambition of the male population, is to achieve a monthly period. He’s a bloke, deal with it. What would they have said to Julius Caesar – “Jules sweetie, forget Gaul, Germany and Britain, you might attract attention and get hurt. Stay at home and **** Brutus’s mum instead, why don’t you”.

If he is killed in action, then he will not be the first and he certainly won’t be the last. If he is captured, then the worst thing that can happen is that he is sent home to Granny with a bag of pistachio nuts, minus iPod.

Kyle said...

If he gets killed he will die a heroic martyr. For the "spare to the heir" I think that would be a pretty respectable way to go. Symbolically, there is no way this can NOT end well for the Crown, as far as I am concerned.

redtown said...

If he were only risking his life, it wouldn’t be an issue. But this kind of urban ground war presents a high risk of his being targeted for kidnap.

The consequences of Harry being blindfolded, threatened, tortured on Islamic TV are unacceptable. It would harm war strategy, decision-making, world opinion, and the national psyche on every level. This is less about his life, and more about the consequences of his potential capture.

Younghusband said...

Have to agree with Redtown. There are plenty of other theatres where the Prince can serve. I don't believe the Brits should be there at all in the first place; let him serve where he could do the greatest good rather than put those under him in the greatest danger. This is not a war in any eventbut a holding action.

Dick Turpin said...

So being blindfolded, threatened, tortured on Islamic TV ...would be OK for the oiks then?

ottawa said...

it's less likely a regular oik will be targeted for kidnap and torture on Islamic TV. Harry would be better off in the Royal Navy or the RAF!

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I can see the nobility in Harry serving in Iraq, but it seems obvious to me that the dangers to the military situation and the stability of Iraq could be threaghtened by his deployment there.

There is too much danger of Baathist insurgents in the Sunni region moving south to get a crack at the prince. That could create a nightmare security scenario.

Anonymous said...

I suspect there is a grave concern about the overwhelmingly positive effect the Prince's service in Iraq would have on the credibility and popularity of the monarchy. This is the age of New Labour, anti-social behaviour citations and the talking closed circuit camera. It is emphatically not the age of the warrior prince.


Beaverbrook said...

I hear the arguments on both sides and come down on the side of sending him. So he and his mates will make a good target; like the British haven't been good targets all along. Gents, if he dies, he dies, but at least it would be an honourable conclusion, as opposed to the consequences of not sending him, and the damage it would do to the monarchy, indeed the very essence of monarchy.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

If the survival of the monarchy depends upon whether Prince Harry goes to Iraq, it is such a weak insitution that it is hardly worth defending.

The monarchy has been far more unpopular in the past and it will continue to survive whether he goes or not.

But the Iraq situation is a major international concern that goes beyond issues of the popularity of the British monarchy.

The troops in Iraq have a job to do, a strategy and if sending Harry gets in the way of that strategy, it is an impediment to the mission. That would not be fair to our American allies or to the Iraqi government whose security could be jeopardised by the deployment of Harry.

El Jefe Maximo said...

A splendid post, and as I wrote on my own blog a few days previously, I think H.R.H must go and take his chances with his regiment. Of course he's a target, as kings and princes have ever been.

Anonymous said...

He's going.


Scott said...

I'm fairly sure that, were Harry to die, British opinion would harden hysterically and permanently against the war. There would be no talk of warrior prince, or martyr for a glorious cause - the slobbering, fat, ill-educated mass of useless leftwing scumbags that control and consume the commanding heights of British culture, would collapse in similar paroxysms of grief as in 1997. Harry would be no martyr - he'd be a victim, and Blair the killer.

In better times he'd go - and whatever the outcome we would be proud and stand by him or his memory; a prince of the crown in battle, like the many before, all the way back to the mighty Black Prince of Wales.

In such times as these, though, our country couldn't take it were he to be captured or killed. Most people here would be incapable of conducting themselves with dignity or sobriety, and Britain would be pathetic again in the eyes of the world.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I agree with Beaverbrook 100%.

Anyone who has served can understand why Harry wants to go. He would never be able to look at his men, or himself in the mirror, ever again. They are his men, he wants to lead them, and I bet they want him to lead them. I'm rather proud of him myself.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Reg, Harry is a soldier. It is not about what he wants. It is about the service of his country.

The Iraq mission could be compromised by his being deployed in Iraq, therefore he should not be sent there.

Our troops are not deployed in Iraq to show off their courage, but to accomplish specific outcomes.

Aeneas the Younger said...

Today's News ...

Anonymous said...

I still believe he should not have been sent. Maybe members of the Royal Family should only be given honourable military titles.

I also disagree with Beaverbrook, as I have seen no convincing argument as to why not sending him would harm the Crown? How? In what way?

People have more important things in their day to day lives to be worried about such an issue. As long as our system gives us stable government that is the main thing.