The English military are a strange breed, and when they overlap with that equally strange clan the Windsor family, odd things happen. The latest example of this whacko relationship has emerged over the Channel 4 drama ‘The Taking of Prince Harry’, scheduled for showing this Thursday. The film depicts what might happen if Harry Windsor were taken prisoner in Afghanistan.
The military brass are not amused. They’ve been applying all the pressure they know to have the drama blocked. Channel 4 would be “failing in their duty to respect the sacrifices that our armed forces and their families make on behalf of the whole country...They will no doubt say this is a serious journalistic exercise but no responsible broadcaster would treat such a serious subject as the morale of our brave service personnel with such casual disregard”.
Blimpish bluster. If you did a survey of Britain today, I’ll bet £50 you’d have a clear majority of people saying Britain should get out of Afghanistan and stay out. The British armed forces may be making a sacrifice in Afghanistan but it’s on behalf of the politicians who sent them there and no one else. British military morale probably is low in that country, but that’s more to do with their realisation that they’re in an unjustifiable and unwinnable war.
The Windsors can’t have it both ways. They can’t have their male scions playing the fearless soldier bit and then get agitated - or allow the British military brass to get agitated on their behalf - when someone imagines what it’d be like if one of those scions got captured. But Harry’s an heir to the throne, you say? Oh pu-lease. My cat’s got as much chance of succeeding as Harry – the Taliban would have to come to Britain and bump off Elizabeth, Charles and William first. If the Windsors insist on marketing their youthful males as action men, they ‘d better accept that script-writers are allowed to imagine a royal scion being held prisoner.
On one point they’re right, though: families do make sacrifices for the British miltary. In 1975 the Friel family in Derry made the ulitmate sacrifice, when 21-year-old Bernadette was shot dead by a British soldier, one Thomas Ramsay. At the time he claimed they’d been playing Russian roulette; it’s now emerged he lied and shot her dead. Where is Mr Ramsay now? No one seems to know, including the British military.
The capture of Harry Windsor is pure pretend; the death of Bernadette Friel was grim and real. It takes some brass neck to be in a tizzy about the former and not give a damn about the latter.