Sunday, January 11, 2009

Poor Harry, He Said, Surprising Himself

No royal lover, I, but I am a compassionate man. This tendency to empathize extends to the English royal family, or the British royal family, or whatever they are, when it comes to Prince Harry. I have shared their relief on more than one occasion that it is Prince William who will wear the crown if all goes well. Prince Harry will have no trouble filling the role performed by Princess Margaret in the present administration, the role of the black sheep.

Poor Harry made the papers again this week. Oh, it’s terrible, said the papers, those horrible racial slurs that he used on his friends! So I checked the tapes.

First he refers to a fellow soldier, evidently a Pakistani, as a Paki. This one is a total mystery to me. In Europe, they refer to Americans as “Ami’s,” and I don’t remember anyone having a problem with it. I mean, he pronounced it very gently, not like “and over here is our filthy Paki scum friend.” The Pakistani guy received a sword from the Queen upon graduation as the “highest performing overseas candidate.” I think that’s much more condescending.

Then he goes on to say that a soldier who has a rag of some kind around his head looks like a “rag-head.” As in, he has a rag around his head. I don’t get this one either. People who wrap rags around their heads should expect it.

Let’s not get too excited about the naked exercise of using certain words. Look at the actions of a person. In the video, Prince Harry seems always to be interacting with these fellow officer candidates in a very relaxed, friendly manner. Plus, in the ensuing years he seems to have served as an officer in the British army with honor and in a very serious manner. And not just on some parade ground somewhere, out within the range of the guns.

Also in the video, during an exercise he appears to be taking a phone call from the Queen, and he is kind of flippant about it. Look, he’s the Prince of England, he can take any phone calls he wants, for one thing, and the Queen is his grandma, which argues against lese majeste. Kind of sweet, I think, putting his friends at ease with a little self-mockery.

He’s also flippant about an exercise in which he must give a set of orders in thirty seconds, and uses the word “shit.” I have read thousands of pages of combat memoirs written by British veterans, starting when I was ten years old with “Praise the Lord, and Pass the Ammunition,” and let me tell you, they can be a flippant bunch. They refer to it as “wit” over there, and they seem to value it highly.

And the direct answer to the question about his ginger pubes was just heartwarming. What’s all the fuss about?

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