It wasn’t dissimilar to a hostage video. Back pressed to a bare wall, no giveaway landmarks or objects within camera shot, reading from a script (the identity of whose author we can only guess), Prince Harry trotted out a stream of platitudes designed to convince us that, you know, racism is a bad thing and the world would be better off without it.
He even said sorry. Not, mind, for that Nazi uniform thing, or the time when he referred to army comrades as ‘Paki’ and ‘raghead’ — youthful indiscretions for which we should of course forgive him. (Let’s be frank, if these things had happened today, the prince would be condemned to live out his existence on Saint Helena). No, Harry was “sorry that we haven’t got the world to the place that you deserve it to be”. Well, I guess we can forgive him for that, too.
I have nothing against the chap, and I’m sure he means well, but the prince’s conversion from most popular royal and all-round ‘bit of a lad’ to high priest of wokeness is all a bit nauseating. Yes, Harry, we know racism is bad, and we know there is still too much of it in the world. But we are also a little concerned that some people appear intent on exacerbating existing divisions with their degrading self-flagellation, constant demands for atonement, and insistence that the rest of us become as hyper-aware of race as they seem to be. And, frankly, your lecturing ordinary Britons about ‘institutional racism’ and ‘unconscious bias’ and the need to ‘right the wrongs of the past’ from the luxury of your swanky LA mansion will go down like a cup of cold sick across a country that is still struggling to escape from a national crisis.
Even the republicans among us (in my case a pretty unenthusiastic one) know that monarchy is defined by certain things: tradition, duty, restraint, loyalty to the nation and the avoidance of political bandwagons. If Harry and his wife wish to continue trading off the Windsor brand — as they clearly do — then, as much as they would like to do so, they cannot simply abandon those responsibilities that come with it. Perhaps the country will start listening to them only when they start cutting ribbons again.