Sunday, January 16, 2005

Deconstructing Harry

Yeah, he's a dumb, pampered kid, probably something of a creep, but beyond that, I'm not sure if anyone's considered that Prince Harry's decision to get all Nazi-ed out for a party had less to do with his being fed up with being in the public eye, or with his exercising his right to a private life, than with a certain amount of deep-felt resentment at being born at a time when being an English prince means little more, relatively speaking, than being a very rich English dude. Think about it--he has to grow up knowing that, had he been born just a few centuries earlier, the circumstances of his position would have meant far more than getting to buy his offensive costumes at taxpayers expense. For most of us (excepting those living in tsunami-affected or war-torn regions and the like), if we imagine that we were born into our own families, but in earlier times, we can be assured that our lives would have been much, much worse. Depending how far back in my family you go, you encounter victims of the (actual, non-costume-wearing) Nazis, pogroms, ghettos, and all manner of banishments from who knows which European countries. Go back into other people's families, you get slavery, serfdom, and other sorts of misery. But if you're a royal in today's England, sure, you have access to modern technological advances, but you're also comparatively less impressive than you once would have been. By decking himself out as a Nazi, Harry was asserting that he was above the law, and certainly above the judgment of anyone--tabloid-writers, British Jews, North American bloggers--beneath him. A high-up royal living at a time when these things matter could not just dress up like a Nazi, but could decide he felt like killing five people whose last names started with the letter "Z" and that would be the afternoon's entertainment.* Well, the sad (for him) fact of it being 2005, he had to apologize. Josh Cherniss wisely suggests that Harry just give the whole royal business up for good. One must keep in mind that this is an option--being royal is a tradeoff, and if Harry just wants the money, he could write a book about his experiences and otherwise forfeit the whole thing.

*Admittedly I know little about British royal history--I confuse it with French royal history, which I know a bit more about, and tend to assume Blackadder tells it like it was.


Anonymous said...

As private parts to the gods are we! They play with us for their sport.

Joshua Cherniss said...

Thanks for the links Phoebe. It's unlikely that Harry would ever have been able to execute 5 people whose last name began with a Z for sport -- I think that such royal powers had been scaled back by the time people with surnames beginning with Z had made an appearance in England. (Actually, that's not true -- I think there was a family called de la Zouche or some such. I could be wrong though. And would you file that under Z or D?). Anyway, the throne in England was somewhat weaker in relation to the aristocracy than in France, so usually there had to be at least some legal, political or religious pretext for homicide.