Thursday, January 13, 2005

Costume Correctness

The British media freaks out over a colonial-themed costume party:

Prince Harry has apologised for wearing a swastika armband to a friend's fancy dress party.

Clarence House issued a statement in response to a photograph published on the front page of the Sun newspaper under the headline, "Harry the Nazi"....

Prince Harry, 20, appears to be wearing a German desert uniform and a swastika armband. He is also holding a drink and cigarette.

I have to wonder, would they have the same reaction if he had dressed up as Satan? Or is outrage limited to one very specific group of his minions' minions? Or if outrage is reserved for historical enemies, how about Stalin, Napoleon, a Viking, or a member of the French Foreign Legion? In the U.S., the outrage would probably be over the cigarette.

The apology has been accepted by some parties who recognize it more as an error of judgement than a deliberate attack against all Jews:

And Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, of the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain, said the apology should be accepted.

Writer Moyra Bremner told BBC News 24 it was extraordinary no-one had stopped the prince wearing the costume and said it was "a terrible error of judgement".

But she added: "I don't think for an instant he meant any insult to Holocaust survivors or indeed the many people who were killed in the concentration camps and the many people in the [British] services who were killed."

But, knowing some history, I must add a historical detail for those who think Prince Harry was endorsing the Holocaust (if he even thought it through this far):
The Sun said Harry wore the desert uniform of Gen. Erwin Rommel's German Afrika Korps to a party in Wiltshire, west of London, on Saturday.
The Afrika Korps, quite appropriately, fought in Africa (not Auschwitz) until it was destroyed by the Allies. General Rommel, who earned the admiration of Winston Churchill during World War II, was later "allowed" to commit suicide after he was tied to a plot to overthrow Hitler:
By the beginning of 1943, Rommel's faith in Germany's ability to win the war was crumbling, as was his estimation of Hitler. Touring Germany, Rommel was appalled at the devastation of the Allied bombing raids and the erosion of the peoples' morale. He also learned for the first time of the death camps, slave labor, the extermination of the Jews and the other atrocities of the Nazi regime. Rommel became convinced that victory for Germany was a lost cause and that prolonging the war would lead only to his homeland's devastation. He came in contact with members of a growing conspiracy dedicated to ousting Hitler and establishing a separate peace with the western allies.
Also interesting is an article addressing the historical relationship between British Royalty and the Nazis (and Germany in general):

Linked by blood but twice divided by war, the royal family's relationship with Germany, its people and its troubled history has long been a sensitive one. The photograph of Prince Harry wearing a swastika has echoes of one particularly disturbing incident involving the family, one which seared itself into the British collective memory - that of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor meeting Adolf Hitler in 1937....

The modern royal family was founded in 1840 when Queen Victoria married Albert of Saxe-Coburg, a Germany duchy, creating The House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Such was the ill-feeling towards all things German during the First World War that in 1917 Victoria's grandson King George V - an honorary Field Marshal in the German army - thought it prudent to renounce the German name and titles and adopt that of Windsor....

Throughout the Twenties and Thirties, the royals were steadfastly opposed to conflict with their ancestral fatherland. Indeed George V's wife Queen Mary always maintained that Britain had "backed the wrong horse" in 1914.


April said...

My favorite part of the whole story is that Prince William went as a lion :)

Nick said...

According to ThisisLondon:

Prince Charles was reported to have privately berated Harry but told an aide his son did not need to grovel and apologise further. Charles was also said to feel Prince William should have stopped his brother from wearing the costume.So the older brother and more likely monarch went along with it. Now, let's see if we can find someone that will be offended by a lion. Maybe a vegetarian?

Amy Ridenour said...

This is the best post on this subject I've seen anywhere.