Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Opportunism or A Little Out Of Place

I have never used this blog for any sort of controversial discussion and what I am about to say is not meant to be a criticism but simply a critique of the reality of a situation in the UK as reported here in New Zealand (and, I suspect, in the UK too).  I should stress, too, that I am not anti-monarchist.  Nor, for that matter, am I pro-monarchist.  I sit on the fence on this one.  Heredity versus the big money of vested interests is a hard choice.  Queen Elizabeth v President Putin.  Hmmm.

Pictures of the Princes William and Harry helping the troops with the flood prevention measures by humping sandbags at Datchet has made most, perhaps all, of the national news media here in New Zealand and probably in a great many other places around the world.  Though heaven knows why. 

Now everyone knows that both of them have been serving members of the forces and that they are fit and able and doubtless willing to do their bit so to speak.  But was that really the best way of utilising their talents and positions?

I have to say that the very first though that flashed through my mind was that one of their public relations advisers had had a brain fart.

Who knows?  Who really cares?  But was it wise?  I think not.

47 comments:

  1. This is a difficult one, isn't it. In some ways, it's hard for the royal family to do the right thing. Knowing they're going home to warm dry beds must be hard for the people they're helping. On the other hand, they have both put their lives on the line in the past, and if this was a mistake, it's a pretty small one (actually, our papers don't seem or have made much of it at all). I'm a royalist. The thought of Presidents Cameron (or Miliband) makes me shudder. As for the old spectre of President Blair....for me, the stiff of nightmares.

    And GB, I think you can say what you like on your own blog, provided it doesn't hurt anyone!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oops! The stiff of nightmares? Sounds like something from a horror movie. Apologies.

      Delete
    2. "Stiff of nightmares" sounds like a reference to Edwina Currie's illicit relationship with John Major.

      Delete
    3. Frances we will always differ. Had you ever lived in the north you would realize that crumbs from the table are not enough. The royals are a load of spongers. They please themselves and are an anachronism. They support everything that is horrific whilst toddling along to the odd charity do for appearances sake.
      PS. Frances, that last 'sake' doesn't look right to a republican. Did I spell it proper?
      PPS. Or Post Post Script. You do and say what you want today it is your birthday.

      Delete
    4. YP, Frances didn't mean stiff. You are an ignoramus she meant Stuff. It's how they speak down south.
      Major stuffed Currie. He didn't Stiff her. I'm horrified you were ever let lose to teach children English. Was your retirement voluntary?

      Delete
    5. Now now, boys. No squabbling. Adrian - "we will always differ"...isn't that a bit hard? I love your photos, and I'm sure you've said some nice things on my blog. As for the royal family, I'm not getting into that. Not on my birthday. And "sake" is fine, but "appearances"should have an apostrophe after it. Ts ts.

      Delete
    6. Francis, you should have better things to do today than be an arbitrator between two fat northerners. No. Differing is never hard it's how one learns. I'll try and remember to be good with my pronunciation marks. A good row or discussion clears the air. I love you for your sympathy but cannot understand your fear of republicanism. The Princes are both retired from the services. It is the Last job for the brain dead and the soon to be dead.

      Delete
    7. Francis, I have never ever thought of putting one there. Many thanks I'll do it regular from now on!!!!!! Just to wind you up. I try not to be thick. I try to be learned from folk like you and YP but proper English is hard.

      Delete
    8. Adrian, if we're going to continue to be friends/adversaries, please could you learn to spell my name accurately? As it is, you are making me out to be a man, which I am not (maybe you thought I was one...oh dear). As for "fear of republicanism", what b***ocks. I fear only heights and dinner parties.

      Delete
    9. With all that erudite discussion and banter going to and fro I was mesmerised and surprised that my little foray into an off-blog topic would raise such a discussion. I must do it more often. However the sentence that struck me the most forcibly was your last statement Frances. The reason I missed your birthday announcement yesterday because I was having a dinner party. It was hilarious. It lasted late into the evening (by Kiwi standards). Why, though, if you fear heights do you ride a horse? I will happily jump off a hill underneath a parachute-type-thingy or abseil down a cliff-face and I'd probably jump out of an aeroplane if the opportunity ever arose but it's a long way to fall from the back of a horse: you can break bits and pieces of you that matter. So why, if you are afraid if heights, do you do it?

      Oh and by the way Adrian I'm not afraid of republicanism (I know that you didn't say that I was) but Republicanism scares the living daylights out of me. I think it was in a biography of Senator McCarthy where I read that on his first day in the Senate he suggested that striking miners be drafted into the army and sent back down the mines on pain of being shot for insubordination if they did not obey. And that was long before he started his campaign against alleged communism in the Democratic party.

      Delete
    10. It's the giving of dinner parties that terrifies me, GB. Firstly, I am always worried about the food (what to cook, will it work, will that thing turn out of the mould, or collapse?). Then, worse, is whether the guests will ge on with each other. I was permanently scarred by an occasion when we invited some very left wing friends together with some very public school (Winchester, as I recall) ones (I am delilberately apolitical). They disliked each other on sight. It was horrible.

      As for heights, horses are not that high. You can fall off a horse and survive (I am living - so far - proof). If you fall out of an aeroplane, you can't. Quite simple, really.

      Delete
    11. I can see your point about dinner parties Frances. I will quite happily give one for 12 people (the most I can get around my table in Scotland) but I always make sure that they will get on. My dinner parties are always relaxed and friendly affairs. If it doesn't turn out of the mould then there'll always be a backup. I also have a habit of trying new things out for the first time at dinner parties. If it were to fail (and so far luck has been on my side) then everyone can have a jolly good topic for discussion at my expense. The only time I've ever broken a bone was when I fell off a horse going down the side of Helvellyn. There was no ground to fall on but fortunately the bracken stopped me some way down the side of the mountain. Getting riding boots off with one arm is impossible. If I were to fall out of a plane by accident then I'd be very careless. My plan would be to use a parachute. On the whole that's probably safer than falling off a horse. However falling off the kerb or a step is statistically more likely to happen to either of us and more likely to injure us. Let's just stay in bed tomorrow!

      Delete
    12. I'd love to, GB, but I'm a married woman.

      Delete
    13. All the more reason to stay in bed perhaps Frances.

      Delete
  2. It was an absolute co-incidence that a news camera caught the princes doing their little bit. By the way Datchet is very close to Windsor. Like their father - who was warmly welcomed when he visited flood victims in Somerset - the princes were showing solidarity with communities badly affected by flooding. It was a symbolic gesture. Would it have been better if the princes had remained in Windsor Castle watching the news coverage? No they got off their backsides and went down to Datchet to lend a hand. Symbolism can be very important - just like their mother visiting Angolan landmine sites - raising the profile.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YOU YP are worse than I am.
      Of course the palace had nothing to do with it. The TV plus press were there by chance. Wash your typing finger with soap.

      Delete
    2. I'm with YP. Go for it, YP! (And I said I wouldn't discuss this today. On well...)

      Delete
    3. This Adrian chappie. I do believe he may be Scotch. In previous centuries the blighter would have been hanged from the portcullis for treason. Don't you think he looks not unlike Oliver Cromwell? As my daughter is also called Frances, I know how infuriating it can be when careless folk insert an "i" where the "e" should be. As for this Adrian chappie, the verb "insert" makes be think not of vowels but of bowels and broken bottles or maybe trowels. Yes, a trowel would hurt - especially sideways. God Save the Queen!

      Delete
  3. Graham, they are young fit and a bit thick. They are what is best about our country. They are heroes. How dare you suggest they were just there for a photo opportunity.
    The Russians had the bottle to get rid of their monarchy. I wish the British had as much bottle. It could have happened under the now rusting lady but we were not as hard as the state. Now I'm too old to care much. That's sad. At least the Russian, American and French can call their country their own.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh dear Adrian you really could set me off with your last statement. I'm not sure that there is any country in the world where the people can call the country their own. The world's richest 85 people control the same amount of wealth as half the world's population. Interestingly the countries you have mentioned seem to have the highest number of billionaires between them with the UK only having one family (the Grosvenors) in the top 100 of the Forbes list (unless I've missed something). The Queen is worth pocket money in comparison.

      Delete
  4. "brain fart"? I may need to look up urban dictionary for that meaning. Following one of the big cyclones here in the North, I think it was cyclone Yasi, Prince William did a visit to one of the communities to have a BBQ with the locals. There is no doubt these kind of PR exercises boost people's spirits in times of disaster, even for the least of monarchists in us. Maybe they are just perceived as any other celebrity in that respect. For the news services to then pick up those images and run them is simply a decision around selling newspapers and getting hits on their websites.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carol '"brain fart" was a phrase I made up some years ago when I made a crucial error in a croquet match and non-plussed my opponent. When she queried why I had done the inexplicable I replied that I'd had a brain fart. She has kept the saying alive and well ever since and it's entered our club's vocabulary.

      Delete
  5. Graham. I'll quote. "I have never used this blog for any sort of controversial discussion and what I am about to say is not meant to be a criticism."
    You have turned posh. Say what you mean Liverpudlians do and never put the rider. 'Not meant to be.' I say what I mean and Francis has tried to. I'm being nice to Francis today cos it's her birthday. The lass was a bit dithery. I'll let her off. Happen a surfeit of champagne and sex......sorry, other things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What do you mean Adrian "turned posh". Are you suggesting I wasn't always posh? Oh dear. And I've tried so hard.

      Delete
  6. I'll let you Brits fight this one out amongst yourselves, I think :) (We have our own royal family in this country to argue about.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Monica that's a very good idea.

      Delete
  7. I agree it's a difficult one and I think they were almost damned if they did damned if they didn't. I think they need to do something and given that they have both served, then helping soldiers move sandbags (i.e. something that might have done anyway if they had been on active service) is reasonable. My problem with it was it looked as if they were having fun. Now I'm not against having fun, but knowing the press were there I think they would have been better off just getting on with the job at hand -- it wasn't meant to be a fun day out, and it certainly wasn't a fun day for those affected (I think that's the right word this time or should it be effected -- damned English language).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with your first sentence Mark to the extent that they probably had to do something and at least they did wade in and get their feet wet so to speak.

      Delete
  8. No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he'd only had good intentions; he had money as well.
    Margaret Thatcher

    You've got me going, too, GB. I don't think you intended this post to be so much fun. If i remember correctly Adrian has strong opinions about the Iron Lady, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pauline when I wrote it I expected Adrian and YP to have a go at the Royals. The result has been a pure bonus.

      Delete
  9. You're right, GB. It made our national news too, here in Seattle. I suppose there is a certain value in showing that the two young princes aren't too high and mighty to muck in when their countrymen need help. And in a flood zone you can always use another pair of hands to haul sandbags. And I know that Queen Elizabeth worked in the motor pool during WWII.

    But perhaps this is one of those cases where no matter what you do it's wrong. President Obama gets that a lot. The Republicans whine that he doesn't do enough for the troops. Then when he honours one of the injured returning soldiers on national television (as he did at the State of the Union address a couple of weeks ago) or when he and Mrs. Obama visit troops in hospital or she works with the families of returning vets, the Republicans harrumph and say the Obamas are grandstanding. So if he doesn't do anything, he gets criticized for that, but if he does do it, then he is suspected of having an unterior motive. Seems that ya just can't win sometimes, no matter what you do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carol I think you do have a very valid point. I think I may have got this one wrong.

      Delete
  10. And I thought it was nice to see the boys helping and getting their hands dirty... and of course, William is very popular here in Christchurch ( even thought I didn't see him during his visit post earthquake) but I might actually try to when they return as a family.... so I guess I am an ex pat monarchist who would rather have them than a Putin, but am not exactly sure that we aren't getting shafted both ways anyway with the current method of leadership here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Fiona, I'm now convinced that the 'boys did good' so to speak.

      Delete
  11. I hadn't thought of them having PR advisers, but I suppose they do. However, I do get the feeling that they like getting out there and doing stuff. Who wouldn't when you think the alternative is opening power stations and the like? !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jenny I think in the UK even PR advisers have PR advisers these days. I recall attending a course 20 or more years ago run by a TV news presenter on how to deal with a press interview including how never to answer the question if you didn't want to.

      Delete
  12. I'm also on the fence with monarchy. It looks like someone was overdoing it to promote a positive image for these two and the monarchy. I did not see this on our news.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suspect, Red, that you have far too many things happening in the US at the moment to worry about a couple of Royals filling sandbags in a British flood.

      Delete
  13. GB, I am from Alabama - which means a great deal to people from Alabama, but I doubt it means much to everyone else - so I have a complete outsider's perspective on this. Most of my fellow Alabamians are still too concerned with the war we lost against our own countrymen to worry about the war we won against "the Redcoats." So royalist versus republican (if I am using those terms remotely accurately) is a dichotomy that is fascinating to me, but in an almost academic sense - our political struggles are squarely in the "moneyed interests" versus "non-moneyed interests" variety, despite what our politicians blather on about religion, democracy, or whatnot. But I know that there are many here in America who look at the royals as just another brand of celebrity - the wedding between Middleton and William? (Or was it Harry? I'm sorry, I'm not trying to be obtuse, I genuinely don't follow these things very closely) was given roughly the same type of press coverage here as the various Kardashian assignations. But to be entirely honest, I can say that I was a bit soured on the royals when my hometown was ripped to shreds by a tornado, and while trying in vain to hear news of the events unfolding just outside my window on a weather radio, emergency information was repeatedly pre-empted by descriptions of this Kate Middleton person's dress and flowers and etc. Like you, I have no wish to offend, but honestly, the typical American view of any elevation of someone due to heredity to be a mild eccentricity at best and a harmful insanity at worst - though to be fair, anyone here who does not believe we do not have our own genetic aristocracy has not heard the names Rockefeller, Bush, and so forth. In the end, I think it is all money, whether the faces on the bills and coins bear crowns or wigs. But that is just my opinion.

    I had not heard of this event, but any time anyone is in the public eye, for better or for worse, their presence cannot help but be viewed as political. I cannot say whether these princes were there to help or there for glory; but I can't help but believe that no prince who has ever lived has been able to see himself as truly "one of the people." Are they not elevated above them from birth?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's an interesting perspective on things Nathaniel.

      Delete
  14. I have no objection to them helping out at all and the BBC article mentioned that one of them had a go at the press for filming them and asked if they'd put their camera down and help instead. As someone with a phd I don't like your sentence "the best way of utilising their talents and positions?". I'm aware that I could sit all day at a computer and do useful things for the world, but I consider getting out and counting dragonflies or picking up litter to be just as valid a use of my time. Rant over!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The point I was making Helen was in relation to their positions in the public eye and society and the very fact that this has been reported around the world elevates it from their private life. What they do in their private time is a different matter.

      Delete
  15. Oh my what a rowdy party is happening over here, and I am late to attend.
    The British Royals, Prince William and Harry in this case are "told" what they have to do for public appearances.
    I never got the impression that they ever had a say in what they would or would not attend for the sake of publicity.
    These photo ops are mostly scheduled and pre-determined by their PR people. I kinda feel sorry for them having to be controlled this way like puppets.....just my two cents.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Such cynicism. Our two young princes, definitely do have a massive say as to where they will display their loyalties - hence Prince William is an Aston Villa supporter and heavily involved with the Football Association. He is also a massive supporter of the British film industry. I firmly believe that their trip to Datchet was not a publicity stunt and there is no evidence to the contrary. God Save the Queen!

      Delete
    2. Surely YP the assertion that PW supports Aston Villa has to be prime facie evidence of outside influence. I can't see what possible reason for supporting such a team he would have if it wasn't a sympathy seeking publicity stunt.

      Delete
  16. I can't believe I not only read your post but also all the comments. What an incredible waste of my valuable time (and talent and position). Just off to fill a sandbag...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. May we therefore deduce that your flush toilet isn't working sir?

      Delete