Friday, February 23, 2007

Leadership

Here's something I'll bet you didn't know about me: I'm a bit of a royalist. Not in a "divine right", political sense, of course. More to do with pomp and circumstance and old stories of kings and queens, especially those bloody and complicated Tudors. We can blame it on my Canadian born grandfather.

Because of this little tendency, I pay attention to the Windsors. I got up at 3 a.m. to watch Charles and Diana's wedding. Actually watched Andrew & Fergie's and Edward & Sophie's, too. I was absolutely devastated, for reasons I'm still trying to understand, when Diana died and stayed up late to "attend" her funeral.

I have particular affection for Wills and Harry. My first thought upon hearing of Diana's death was for the boys and their loss was the locus of my pain in those sad days. (I'd also bought the media hype that Charles was a distant, uncaring father. There was a sweet moment, when Charles and the boys were looking at the floral tributes outside the castle; Harry took his dad's hand and held it as he pointed out one of the remembrances. "Maybe they'll be alright," I thought).

The boys. Wills and Harry. Love. Them. I'm rooting for them to be happy, to marry for love. I also think it would be just jolly to see William crowned king. This scenario assumes Elizabeth II ever actually dying and further assumes Charles abdicating so he can totter off to his organic farm with his equine-faced concubine wife (guess I'm still holding a grudge). It would just be super fun to watch an honest-to-goodness coronation. And I suppose it would be just as fun if it were Charles' coronation; Lord knows he's waited long enough for it. But geez...can't you just see Wills in ermine? Makes me giddy.

Then there's Harry. The one that, heretofore, has been noteworthy for having the Spencer red hair, partying a bit too much and learning the hard way that Nazis really aren't that funny. He's 3rd in line to the throne, which isn't that far away if you think about it. His maternal great-grandfather was 3rd in line, becoming George VI after his father died and his brother Edward abdicated to be with the wicked Mrs. Simpson. And there was another Harry who was 3rd in line...Henry VIII...who was destined for the Church until his elder brother Edward died and he suddenly went from "spare" to "heir".

I don't know that Harry will ever be king of England. I do know that he has recently displayed a great deal of character and that's the sort of thing one likes to see in a potential monarch.
This spring, even as Britain is reducing her troop commitment in Iraq, Harry will deploy to the front lines.



In an interview when he turned 21, Harry said, "There’s no way I’m going to put myself through Sandhurst, and then sit on my arse back home while my boys are out fighting for their country. That may sound patriotic but it's true.” And now he's living up to his word. He told his commanders that he'd quit the service if they made him stay behind when his unit deployed.

Now there are all sorts of ways to look at this, I suppose. There are those who argue that it is a PR stunt to drum up flagging support for the war. There is the concern that his presence on the battlefield heightens the danger for the troops under his command (he's a "cornet", the British equivalent of a second lieutenant). I'd argue that there is nothing stunt-like about a young man performing the duties for which he trained. Isn't that what one expects of a soldier, regardless of his pedigree? As to the increased risk, well, the front lines of Iraq are not a particularly safe place. I don't see how it could be more dangerous than it already is. And frankly, were he another sort of person, that would be an excellent excuse for not going. Who could argue with a prince who said, with some legitimacy, that he didn't want to endanger his troops? But he's not playing that card.

Now surely you know that I hate this war and would much prefer to see all the troops come home. But I don't blame them for the war. Soldiers have a hard and dangerous job and when they serve with honor they deserve our respect (and better than decent benefits when they return home).

It is laudable to see a child of privilege living up to such a commitment. Quite the done thing in that family, when you think of it. Wills also holds military rank (though they won't let him see combat duty). And the boys are simply following the footsteps of their father, uncles and even grandparents (Elizabeth was a driver during WWII). Golly, makes you wonder. Must do a Google search to see how many children of US Presidents ever served in the military. You just don't see a lot of rich, powerful Americans encouraging their kids in that direction.

For what it's worth, I wouldn't want my child to go to war, either. I don't want any child to have to go to war. But I certainly honor those who are willing. So I find myself kvelling a bit over Prince Harry. He's turning into a fine young man and I wish him well. I think Di would be very proud of him.

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16 Comments:

Blogger jp opined...

Plus, he turned out to be the hot one. Who knew?

February 23, 2007 12:36 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Fo' shizzle!

February 23, 2007 12:38 PM  
Blogger Dariush Alavi opined...

Okay, this is going to be a techno-first for me: I'm entering this comment using my mobile phone.
I think the Royals deserve praise for many things, and they probably deserve their fair share of criticism too. But my day job brings me into constant contact with the victims of neglect, instability and selfishness, so I applaud most efforts to keep things like tradition and duty alive.
Phew, thank goodness for predictive text!

February 23, 2007 2:37 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Hear, hear!

(And well done on commenting from your mobile...nary a mistake!)

February 23, 2007 2:52 PM  
Blogger Hapamama opined...

This makes me feel better about my collection (albeit small) of clippings from when Diana died. Oh yeah and my two coffee table books that I would never put on the coffee table, but I adore them anyway. I was at camp the day she got married so they set up a television in the assembly hall and we all got up in the wee hours and wandered down to watch the wedding. A memory I will never forget and one that seemed bittersweet when I watched her funeral....
....which I taped
...and still have somewhere

February 23, 2007 3:15 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Yeah, I only have a couple of newspapers, 2 commemorative magazines and video tape not only of the funeral but of various news programs in the days right after her death. And I think that includes the speech the Queen was forced to make. But I only have one coffee table book (also not on my coffee table).

Nutty.

February 23, 2007 4:22 PM  
Blogger gina opined...

Princess Di's funeral was on the morning of our daughter's wedding. Talk about an emotional day! I cried like a baby watching the funeral, and like you, my first thought was of the boys, and how sad it was they had to grow up without their mother. It was pretty cool to see Kensington Palace during our trip to the UK. I agree with you on every count.

And your post got me wondering, so I did some research on presidential kids who've gone to war. Check my blog for the results of my search thus far.

February 23, 2007 4:25 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Yikes, Gina! I would have been a basket case! And I'm heading over to your blog right now to see what you've found out. Yay for librarians who do research so the rest of us don't have to!

February 23, 2007 4:27 PM  
Blogger Sling opined...

"There’s no way I’m going to put myself through Sandhurst, and then sit on my arse back home while my boys are out fighting for their country. That may sound patriotic but it's true.”..
Now here's a guy I could follow into the fray.
Give 'em hell Harry!..

February 23, 2007 5:52 PM  
Anonymous Dame Judi opined...

A wonderful post. You said it beautifully. And as a granny, my heart aches for his - not matter she's a queen, she's still a granny.

Harry makes us all proud, a credit to his generation, his parents and his nation.

February 23, 2007 9:35 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Sling, you force me to repeat myself: fo' shizzle.

DJ: Knew you'd understand.

February 23, 2007 10:46 PM  
Blogger Grish opined...

Why did Sling's comment give me a Harry Potter flashback..lol

But really. I read this earlier on the news and I was trying to figure out if this was indeed the same boy..

February 24, 2007 1:52 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Grish, That's the lad, indeed. And now we can approximate how much older I am than you...Sling's comment made me think of Truman.

February 24, 2007 9:06 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Although, I should note, for the record, that I was born when Eisenhower was president. But still.

February 24, 2007 9:06 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

What I mean to say is, I'm not that old.

Why did I start this?

February 24, 2007 9:07 AM  
Blogger rosemary opined...

I have clippings, magazines, newpaper stuffers...all about Di's wedding and her untimely death.....I also watched her wedding...stayed home from work.. and her funeral. Seems to me this son Harry is proof of the genetic theory at work because he sure didn't get his gusto from his horse around father....nor did anything rub off from his horse blanket step-mother. HA! Camilla is coming out with a line of glass frames....she'd better hope Charle-horse doesn't decide to get his vision corrected!

February 24, 2007 9:08 AM  

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