Considering the fact that this blog has so far avoided any real mention of Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as a running mate, the huge success that was the London Olympic Games or the Todd Akin “legitimate rape” controversy in Missouri, to name just three recent trending stories, it might be considered a bit unseemly to come back from a brief break by writing about the bare buttocks of the third in line to the British throne.
But then again, one has to pick up somewhere.
Everyone seems to have a strongly held opinion about Prince Harry’s recent exploits in a Las Vegas hotel suite, but I have been surprised by how many of those views have been along the lines of “it was totally fine, he was just letting off steam”, “everyone is entitled to a private life” (well duh…) or “how ghastly that anyone would consider publishing these pictures, it should be made illegal”.
Here’s my take:
1. What on earth were the royal protection officers doing? I would think that it should be standard practice to confiscate mobile phones from strangers when they are invited up to a secured area to party with the prince, not simply to avoid the leaking of embarrassing pictures but so that security-related information cannot be sent in real-time to other people outside.
2. What Prince Harry decides to do behind closed doors among friends is his own business. However, he is also a member of the royal family and has public duties to perform. He represents the United Kingdom to the world. Picking up random girls from a bar and inviting them up to your hotel suite to play strip billiards is not classy and does not reflect well on the royal family, the Army (in which he serves as a Captain) or on his country. Again, if they were existing friends unlikely to leak pictures or stories, there’s no problem. But they were strangers. Even if the pictures had not emerged, stories would have done, which would have also embarrassed the country, albeit to a lesser extent. If Prince Harry wishes to behave in that way without attracting negative comment or approbation, he is of course free to relinquish his position in the royal family and in the line of succession. He would then join the massed ranks of other British celebrities who make fools of themselves in public, but it wouldn’t matter and I would not be writing this blog post.
3. The story, and the pictures, are absolutely in the public interest, because at all times, Prince Harry represents our country. Again, if he doesn’t wish to carry this burden and have to look over his shoulder all of the time whenever he decides to “let off steam”, he can renounce his place in the line of succession, and “quit” the royal family, so to speak. But since he does represent our country, the fact that he decided to pick up random girls in a hotel bar and take them to his suite to play strip billiards is very much in the public interest. He has public duties to perform. He represented the Queen at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games a matter of days ago. His role and level of responsibility in the royal family has been steadily increasing, and therefore there is an indisputable public interest in how he conducts himself, on and off duty. Louise Mensch MP was absolutely right to say that he ‘had no expectation of privacy‘.
4. Bravo to The Sun, for publishing the pictures in the face of bullying by the royal family, the Press Complaints Commission, and the ever-present, chilling shadow that is the Leveson enquiry. Shame on everyone else for being too prudish or too scared.
That is all.