The last four months have been eerily quiet. A face we were so used to seeing only 6 months ago, had a well earned break from appearing in every news outlet imaginable. I am, of course, referring to Prince Harry who has spent the last 4 months away on tour in Afghanistan. The moment he touched down on English soil, natural order was restored and I am now safe in the knowledge that Harry’s face will be a regular fixture on any newsstand once again.
The fickle nature of the media means Captain Wales’ popularity swings in roundabouts and I’m afraid it has not been a good week for him. After making perhaps a few ill-advised comments, our Prince has landed himself in hot water (again). In an interview marking the end of his tour, some have claimed his answers were just too insensitive and inappropriate in light of the delicate issues he was discussing. Is this yet another faux pas by the Prince? Or are we just too accustomed to public officials dodging difficult questions and failing to give us honest and realistic responses?
At the tender age of 22, I feel I can often be more forgiving to controversy. When the now infamous photographs of a rather nude Prince Harry hit the internet, I may have giggled and simply put it down to a rich and boisterous 20 something year old letting his hair down, or in this case, his trousers down. On the other hand, when the equally infamous photographs of a rather Nazi-inspired Prince hit the papers, I was shocked and annoyed by an act so full of stupidity and devoid of responsibility, that I feared my appreciation of such a modern Prince was in doubt.
And now we’re faced with the latest controversy: Harry’s interview to mark the end of his Afghanistan tour. The Prince has since been criticised in the media for his openness and apparent disregard to killing whilst he was on tour in Afghanistan, his assertion that he ought to have been given privacy during that fateful night in Vegas and the suggestion that playing video games helped his aim in carrying out the aforementioned killings.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that out of all the controversies the third in line to the throne has incurred, this really is a case of a making ‘a mountain out of a molehill’.
Let us take the fact he openly admitted he has killed whilst on tour in Afghanistan. I’ll concede that his words could have been phrased in a slightly more respectful way. But let’s face facts: anyone under the impression that soldiers deployed to Afghanistan do not kill is sadly naive. ‘Take a life to save a life’. That’s what Harry said and that’s what Harry had to do. I personally feel his honest comments have only shocked and offended the public merely because they are hard facts to swallow. His honesty serves as a harsh reminder that whilst most of us remain safe in the comfort of our own homes, the battle in Afghanistan rages on and people are still losing their lives. Further, would we be so quick to criticise these comments if they had come from anyone other than the Prince? Let us not forget that soldiers returning from deployment do not ordinarily give interviews about their tour; this was unique for the Prince and I, for one, am glad he didn’t shy away from the more sinister side to life on the frontline.
Now to his comments regarding the infamous Vegas scandal, how long the world has waited to hear them. Harry admitted to letting himself down, as well as his family. But he also upset some folk for arguing that he still should have been given some privacy and seemingly criticised the media for this. Cue his critiques slamming him for such comments: as Prince he should have had more sense and responsibility than to strip naked with complete strangers! He should have expected these pictures to be published! He should have known better! I, however, feel his comments were misguided for another reason: failing to see the bigger picture. It is arguable a degree of privacy should have been granted in order to allow the Prince to blow off some steam before embarking on a tour of Afghanistan, but in reality the public interest in his private life is far too powerful. The Vegas saga was likely the result of a complete failure of Harry’s security and personal team to ensure there were no threats to his privacy. Those individuals, paid to protect him, ought to have controlled the situation and ensured that the Prince was able to enjoy himself without the presence of cameras.
Finally, Harry suggested that his habitual enjoyment of video games helped him aim better whilst on tour and some have decided he has likened playing violent video games to being on the frontline in Afghanistan. What a ridiculous reaction. Harry’s popularity thrives on his down-to-earth nature and apparent ‘cheeky’ sense of humour. His comments merely provided the public with a snippet of insight into Harry’s life on the frontline. Sadly, taken at face value, they won’t provide the sensational headlines newspapers so desperately crave so instead we cry outrage and spin his words into something much more sinister.
Ultimately, Prince Harry gave the media exactly what they wanted: a front page news story about this ever-fascinating royal family member. As a reward, he is lambasted for his comments, which quite frankly are the very comments that make people appreciate Harry for what he is: a young, 28 year old army official who happens to be a Prince. I, for one, welcome his honesty and sincerity. It’s a shame that more public officials struggle to display similar, straightforward behaviour.
By: Rebecca Turner