Thursday, August 23, 2012

He Had Nothing On But the Television

This is perhaps the biggest faux-scandal I've seen or heard in a while.

There is a lot being made over the fact that Prince Henry of Wales, third in line to the British throne, was photographed sans clothes in the company of beautiful women while in Las Vegas.  If anything, it does disprove the idea of 'what happens in Vegas...'

I frankly don't see the scandal or what the big fuss is all about.  Let's put some things in perspective.

Harry, as he's better known as, is a young man (27), unmarried, not involved in a serious relationship.  He's always had a reputation for being a party-loving fellow, and he was on his 'off-hours' from his military service.  As far as I can see he's broken no laws and has done what most men in Las Vegas who are able to afford it do: be surrounded by a bevy of beauties who will satisfy physical pleasure.  He's a good-looking fellow who I imagine would get women easily.  The fact that he's a member of the House of Windsor is just icing on the cake. 

However, let's face it: none of the women who enjoyed the pleasure of his company in Vegas would ever attain the title of Duchess of Anything, even Duchess of Earl.  The ensuing brouhaha is really a giant ball of nonsense.

Prince Henry has been this way for years.  Even as a child, he was always more rambunctious and free-spirited.  Now that he's grown older (if not wiser), being the only major member of the British monarchy NOT to be married and having a great deal of charm and money at his disposal, he's making full (and/or fool) use of his advantages.

Still, I'm at a loss to understand why so many people are either aghast or even interested in all this.  He's young, handsome, unmarried, and a player...what did one expect: Harry to show up in a monastery to take on holy orders?  It WOULD have been a scandal if he'd popped down to the Little Wedding Chapel a la The Hangover and found he'd taken on a Mrs. Wales.  Given he hasn't, people really should say, 'Oh, Harry, you silly boy.'

I'm not defending him because I don't think he needs defending.  I don't think he should apologize because he has done nothing to apologize for...except to his grandmother/monarch Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  He HAS embarrassed her, and it's to her and his family that he should apologize to.  People in general, and specifically the British public?  Certainly not.

Now, I say this as one of the most bourgeois people around, someone who takes a dim view of people behaving foolishly in public or private.  I'm probably more old-fashioned than most, but as someone who disapproves of tattoos in general the sight of a young, single man cavorting with women doesn't shock me.  His decision-making skills, perhaps (and let's be honest, people who club with Ryan Lochte aren't exactly Rhodes scholars), but all this?  Don't matter none.

At most, the worst thing about this trifle is that the decision to be in a position to be photographed was a remarkably poor one.  I figure he did not want naked pictures of himself to exist (most people, royal or not, probably don't), and even in this I don't hold Prince Harry completely at fault.  It's this idiotic Gen Y mindset that HAS to have every pathetic moment of their lives chronicled in excruciating and nauseating detail, if not on still cameras then on YouTube or Facebook or Twitter.  What it is about people HAVING to tell us every detail about their lives is beyond me.  

It's one thing to give your opinion...I'm all for that.  However, I don't care about anyone enough to know what they ate or where they ate it at.

What does strike me as curious, even fascinating, in all this is that apparently, history is repeating itself right before our very eyes.

Consider this.  You have two siblings, both second and third in line to the throne.  The older of the two, who would inherit the throne, is seen as the more sensible one, the good one.  The younger, who would see their place in the line of succession recede with every birth, is the fun-loving one, the naughty one.  The older is the one seen as being more responsible, while the latter as being the more frivolous. 

One could easily say I was referring to William, Duke of Cambridge and his younger brother, Prince Harry.  However, you'd be wrong...  

This was the perception of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and her younger sister, Princess Margaret when they were young and lovely (I still think Her Majesty is lovely, but I digress).  Elizabeth, by temperament, was always more serious (I suspect the Abdication Crisis shaped her views on life and the monarchy tremendously, with World War II being as strong an influence on life as her parents).  Margaret, also by temperament, was the more adventurous one, the one who was not as constricted by mores as her dutiful sister.  Margaret did as she wanted, to her detriment.

In a curious way, William and Harry are playing out the Windsor girls' own lives.  William, now married to Catherine, is seen as the rational, mature one.  Yes, he's sowed a few wild oats but now that he's taken a wife and more public duties, people expect him to behave, and behave in a manner reflective of his grandmother, Good Queen Bess.  Harry, always seen as the good-time guy who never met a drink or broad he didn't like, is Margaret Redux: someone who has great privilege but little responsibilities (more so when he does leave military service). 

Margaret was admired, even loved for flouting convention, a breath of fresh air in the House of Windsor.  However, this was only for a spell.  Once she became Countess of Snowdon, she was expected to behave.  Sadly, years of being spoiled led to a haughtiness and imperiousness unbecoming royalty.  The public that once held her in high regard for her joie de vivre soon became disenchanted, growing to dislike, even hate, the Queen's sister for her antics.

If penance is in the sin, HRH Margaret, Countess of Snowdon paid for hers dearly.  She was once beautiful.  She was once glamorous.  She was once the envy of all the girls.  Then, the life she had led finally caught up to her.

Virtually alone, with not much purpose in life, with years of drink and smoking behind her, unable to walk after scalding her feet and a series of strokes, she died before both her 101-year-old mother and her older sister.  One can't see Princess Margaret's life and not feel a little bit of sadness.  Granted, some of the unhappiness she had was not of her own doing (in particular her thwarted efforts to marry Group Captain Peter Townsend) but many were (the smoking, the drinking, the sense of entitlement at a moment's whim). 

Will that fate happen to Prince Harry as well?  Will he be recalled in history for his debaucheries?  Will people think his was a wasted life?  At the moment it is far too soon to tell, although this latest adventure of Hazard Harry won't do wonders for his reputation.

Ultimately, this latest escapade is a tempest in a teacup, of little importance, only to be brought up whenever anyone wants to embarrass him.  Eventually, people will accept that he's young and foolish now and that he's never been shy in public and apparently in private. 

However, once he gets over this (just like he did when we was caught smoking pot or wearing a Nazi uniform for a costume party), I only hope that he will not turn into his great-aunt: someone with looks and promise who ended up so self-indulged it cost them more than all the gold in the realm.            

Who says BLONDES have more fun?

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