29 April 2007

Don’t Bring Harry?

Ever since the 17th Century our monarchs have ruled but with no real power. The last king to try and rule as something approaching an absolute monarch ended up losing his head in January 1649 (Charles I was not quite a sun king though - more like a Swan Vesta). His son James II was deposed for being a catholic and his successors, William III and Mary II were given the job on the basis that they largely shut up and let Parliament hold the reins of power (I KNOW that’s a gross oversimplification).

So for the last 300 years or so, the three real functions of the monarch have been to: Sit on the throne; Shut up and look regal for the benefit of the lumpen masses; Produce the next throne sitter and a spare or two for good measure (accidents or American divorcees happen)

The heir to the throne is groomed to do these things. Function iii can be of course be performed while waiting for functions i and ii, but it can be a long wait – Prince Charles may well be in his seventies before he becomes Charles III. In the meantime he has plenty of time to rail at modern architecture.

The heir’s siblings,however, are just reserves in the event of anything happening. In the past a younger sibling did have a reasonable chance of becoming king or queen (Henry VIII was a spare, Elizabeth I succeeded her sister William IV succeeded his brother and so on) but the last time a spare was unwrapped and given the crown was in 1936 when Edward VIII abdicated.

It is unlikely that Harry will be anything other than a prince. So where does that leave him? He is irrelevant to the succession so he has chosen a profession that many of his predecessors have chosen in the past – he has joined the military. At present he is known as Cornet Wales (cornet is an old term for a second lieutenant in a cavalry troop. It is still used in the regiments of the Household Cavalry). His regiment, the Blues and Royals is scheduled to undertake a six month tour in Iraq.

Whether or not Harry will join his regiment in Iraq been a matter of serious debate even though it was always clear that the Blues and Royals would be deployed to a conflict zone during his service. The regiment is due to depart for Iraq within days, the Prince's posting has become the subject of fraught negotiations between the Ministry of Defence, the Army and Clarence House. The head of the Army, Sir Richard Dannatt, will decide (if he hasn’t already done so) whether to permit his deployment. His decision will surely be based on an assessment of the dangers to Harry but also to those who might face extra risks because he is in their midst.

Should he go to Iraq Harry's most likely role will be long-range reconnaissance patrolling in Maysan on the Iran border, something that has been considered a relatively safe duty (or at least safer than patrolling the streets of Basra). Having said that two troopers were killed this month in Maysan in an attack which might have been a "dry run" for a similar attempt on Harry's life.

Militias have boasted that they are preparing to capture or kill the Prince. One group claims it will send him home to his grandmother without his ears. Most of these are probably empty threats but it seems likely that the opportunity to kill or, better still, capture a member of the royal family will be too tempting a prospect for an insurgent to pass up. I can only imagine that attacks on British forces in Iraq will increase considerably leading to the loss of more of his comrades.than may have been the case if he were not there.

The Guardian and other papers are reporting that additional special forces are being deployed to Iraq to monitor militia activity so the indications are that he will be going.

Whether the British Army should be in Iraq or whether we should have a monarchy in this day and age are different issues


elasticwaistbandlady said...

Prince Harry will be just fine as I bet he plans on going to Iran wearing his controversial Nazi uniform.

Agnes said...

EWL< you have a very sharp tongue. I don't envy Papi, but just ask him, probably he doesn't envy himself either...

jams, not a bad idea, because an earless monarch is not so presentable...what if you sent all of them to Iraq, hence the monarchy wouldn't be an issue in the UK anymore...once upon a time kings and princes used to fight...as for the rest, merry old England was used to beheadings, and ear choppings, wasn't it? I feel so vile today...

jams o donnell said...

Err ewbl you want to off our royal family?? Add a bacon butty and a "fuck Khamenei" T shirt and he willbe sent back from Iran on the installment plan

I don't know, we stopped putting our monarchs to death a fair while ago! He may be a bit of a tosser but he doesnt deserve an goode fashion olde mutilation from merrie Englande!

Agnes said...

"we stopped putting our monarchs to death a fair while ago" - why?

"from merrie Englande!" - no, no, from not so merry Iraq

jams o donnell said...

I supose we found it easier not to... If we beheaded all of our monarchs who would want to take their place!

or not so merry Iraq either, Red