So a 27 year-old has been pictured partying, albeit naked, with what he thought were “friends”...big deal? Well ninety-nine times out of a hundred probably not, but when the hundredth person in question is third in line to the throne, you can be sure it’s front page news.
Prince Harry has found himself making headline for the wrong reasons on more than one occasion (viz. the German “fancy dress” uniform in 2005) and for the modern-day press, a Royal Prince is much more than just fair game... he’s a guaranteed money-maker, so editors up and down the country must have been rubbing their hands with glee when these latest phone-camera images surfaced.
I accept that the Royal Family as an institution has a credibility to preserve and that behind palace doors, Harry’s escapade won’t have gone down particularly well. But... he’s 27... he’s single... and since when was a young single man not allowed to have some fun; or does a royal total bestow a lifetime of abstinence as well as a lifetime of privilege? You’ll have to answer that one for yourself.
For what it’s worth, I’m not really interesting in reading the story or seeing the pictures. Prince Harry has carried out his official duties in an increasingly mature and engaging manner and he and his brother have done much to bring the monarchy into the 21st century... and it would certainly be difficult to deny the huge popularity of the Queen and the Royal Family in this Jubilee Year.
But Prince Harry has also served Queen (or Grandmother) and Country in a military role as well... stories of the sacrifice that many have made in the line of duty are sadly all too familiar... so I will ask again; since when was a young single man not allowed to have some
Being perfectly honest, I would say that the Charles/Diana/Camilla triangle was far more distasteful than this current “scandal” and although I have reservations, I do hope that this story disappears sooner rather than later (although editors will always reserve the right to resurrect....) and Harry, along with his brother and his sister-in-law can carry on doing what they do best... proving that the Royal Family has a place in modern society and being figureheads of whom (for almost all the time) we can be justifiably and immensely proud.
Well I stayed awake for some of last night's opening ceremony... a mixture of the inspired, spectacular and... er... puzzling. Some of the symbolic pieces didn't quite work for me, but as someone who is proud to work in the NHS, I really enjoyed the section that included health service staff and the link to children's fiction...
What I love about Britain is an ability to not take ourselves too seriously; Mr Bean in the orchestra was superbly conceived and really funny and the Queen entering into the spirit with the James Bond concept... well it worked for me.
My musical highlight was the clip of the Pistols' Pretty Vacant... accompanied by a pogo from the slightly bizarre characters above right. And then came the competitors... I must admit, the effects of a long week were starting to catch up on me by then... I saw the Australian flag carried by basketball star Lauren Jackson, but then I nodded off.
I thought I'd been asleep for ages, but when I woke and my sleepy eyes focussed back on the telly screen, they were only up to Burkina bloody Faso... Twenty-four letters to go... time for bed.
Sir Chris Hoy eventually led Team GB into the Stadium... at around half past five this morning... the Olympic Torch arrived carried by Sir Steve Redgrave... and the coming together of two-hundred-plus copper petals to create a single flame... well that was genuinely impressive.
But today, it's about competition... about medals... and I for one can't wait...
So that’s Wimbledon done and dusted for another year and I must say that my ability at predicting likely winners remains as crap as it’s always been...
I picked Sam Stosur to do well in the women’s singles... crash...
And Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to battle it out in the men’s draw... bang and wallop...
Roger Federer was dismissed... good call... but at least I did say that Andy Murray always finds one too good... finger on the pulse methinks!
I watched bit of both finals... Serena Williams is clearly a wonderful athlete, but for some reason she’s just one of those players I can’t get away with... I also draw the line at players with unpronouceable names... so the losing finalist was simply a girl from Poland, who did very well.
Yesterday, Murray was good, Federer was brilliant... no shame in losing to the best player that has ever graced a tennis court, but it was the Scot’s post-match interview, as much as his performance in the four sets that has grabbed the headlines. And here I think is where opinion will be divided... some will say his emotion was a sign of weakness, others (me
included) saw it as proof of how much the game... and his pursuit of a Grand Slam... actually means.
Murray’s dour persona is not particularly endearing, but yesterday may change the way some (but certainly not all) view him... Personally, I still don’t think he will win one of the four majors; his emergence in an almost unprecedented age of brilliant players being a compelling reason, but given my enduring lack of ability as a tipster, you should probably head straight for the nearest bookies...
On the subject of "silver", I donated my 25th pint of blood at Consett today (which entitles me to my silver award and a Club biscuit...). I'm not sure how many people around the country have had the benefit of a drop or two of Kirby gold top, but I am proud to be a blood donor... and proud to work within NHS Blood & Transplant... But if you're thinking I might end with a photo of a needle stuck in my arm, you'd be wrong; likewise if you hoped to see a grown Scot blubbing... no... I am going to leave you with the undisputed no.1 women's doubles pairing... and their reaction to reading my blog...
I only watched bits of last night’s Jubilee Concert... Tina was busy dumping Tommy over on Corrie don’t you know... but I was very much glued to BBC1 as events outside Buckingham Palace drew to a close...
As always, there were highs and lows on stage... Cliff Richard was dire... way past his sell-by date and some of the other oldies certainly showed him how it was done. I enjoyed Kylie... I pressed the mute button so I could concentrate properly. (Sir) Gary Barlow’s Commonwealth extravaganza was okay... loved the little girl who sang solo and Paul McCartney provided a
fitting finale to the musical proceedings. Of the comedy links... I thought Peter Kay and Lenny Henry were great, but others weren’t quite so successful... although I didn’t see any Gervaise-style deaths, which was a relief.
It must have been a strange evening for the Queen... having spent most of the previous day alongside her husband on a barge; she now sat alone as Prince Phillip lay in hospital with a reported bladder infection. Hopefully his recovery will be full and swift...
I thought Prince Charles delivered a wonderful speech... he captured the mood perfectly and set the scene for a rousing verse of God Save the Queen... And then came my champagne moment... the reaction amongst some of the stars and many of the crowd probably went something like this...
Hang on, there’s another verse. Another verse? No one told me... Do you know the words? Neither do I... What do we do? Hum? Whistle... Shit, where is John Redwood when you need him...
For the record there are actually three verses, but that’s by-the-by. In the Kirby household, I smugly sang all the words... and as for those humming, miming or otherwise, well they should be duly dispatched to the Tower!!!
Yesterday marked the actual Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, who acceded to the throne following the death of her father George VI on 6th February 1952. She was in Kenya at the time of the King’s passing and for my generation she is the only monarch we have ever known.
Opinions will vary on the role or “value” of the modern Royal Family; for me the Queen is our figurehead, someone who has both ruled and served her kingdom with unwavering loyalty, grace and austerity and she is a symbol of so much that is good about Great Britain and those Commonwealth countries over which she remains the sovereign.
In fairness, I think the essence of “royalty” has somewhat skipped a generation because I have little time for the Queen’s three sons... it
speaks volumes that Diana, Princess of Wales was overwhelmingly more “loved” or popular”... more “royal”even, than those of direct descent...
However, I believe that Diana’s legacy will be that her own children will remove any negative anachronistic aspect of the monarchy; personally, when the time comes, I would actually prefer to see Prince Charles decline the throne(although he won’t because being King was what he was born to “do”) because I feel that William and Catherine (along with Prince Harry) are the key to maintaining (and probably increasing) the popularity of the Royal Family and ensuring a viable future further into the twenty-first century.
As I’m sure you are aware, Queen Elizabeth II’s reign is the second-longest of all British monarchs behind Queen Victoria (1837-1901), however she has quite some way to go to overtake the 82 years during which Sobhuza II was Paramount Chief and King of Swaziland (1899 and 1982)... In fact, our Queen is not actually the longest current reigning monarch; that accolade goes to King Rama IX of Thailand, who has been on his country’s throne for over 65 years.
I was going to end the blog by mentioning Rama’s brothers Lama and Ding-Dong... but luckily I thought better of it...
No other country in the world can stage a ceremony with the pomp and pageantry of yesterday’s Royal Wedding. The marriage of Prince William to Catherine (Kate) Middleton was a wonderful occasion and if anyone had doubts about the popularity of this young couple, you only had to see the remarkable numbers of people lining the streets, gathered in Hyde Park or outside Buckingham Palace to get a feel for the mood of the country.
I am a staunch monarchist, royalist, call it what you will, but objective enough to realise that the royal family had become an anachronism and the extent to which the Queen had lost touch with her people was never more clearly demonstrated than in the aftermath of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997.
Seldom has the nation’s mood been so badly misjudged... and the popularity of Queen Elizabeth and other family members was certainly damaged as a result.
In my opinion, Diana had become more “royal” than the family into which she had married. The esteem and love in which she was held was obvious, but the sheer extent was impossible to fully comprehend... until the fateful events of that August night in Paris...
I don’t believe Prince Charles truly loved Diana (whatever “love” is...) but the pattern of aristocratic royal marriages was long embedded and perhaps the heir to the throne wasn’t willing or able to break with tradition. In truth, the Queen’s children may ultimately be seen as the lost generation... the wider media coverage of the age has allowed minute security of those with royal privilege and character flaws have been regularly (and sometimes cruelly) exposed.
Diana understood that you can still by “royal” without being aloof... and William is most definitely his mother’s son. His feelings for Kate were there for the watching millions to see... he chose to marry the girl he loves, irrespective of background or protocol and even though this wonderful young couple (along with the fantastic Prince Harry) have a huge burden to carry, I truly believe that they will ultimately change the face of the British monarchy forever... and for the better.
That will be William’s legacy... and it will be Diana’s as well.
All my own work... almost.