WAR – The Prince Harry myth

Photo: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Photo: John Stillwell/PA Wire

All of a sudden we are seeing reports of Prince Harry’s exploits in Afghanistan in most major newspapers. If the press is to be believed, Prince Harry has given every major newspaper an interview, speaking of his military service as he comes to the end of a 20 week tour.

Those of you who have read more than one report, and who have a keener eye may have noticed something. All of the reports are very similar, with some of them carrying the same photographs of the Prince ‘in action’ and exactly the same quotes allegedly from the Prince and others.

The reason for the similarity is that the reports and the pictures were not obtained directly from the Prince by the publications. The reports are based on a ‘press pack’ released by the Ministry of Defence that contained the images used in the publications, and an alleged ‘interview’ with the Prince produced through the Ministry’s press office.

In the story and the pictures are to be believed, the Prince is never far from action, and is seen dashing here and there in the name of freedom and the ‘war on terror’. The ‘hero’ prepared to lay down his life for his country blah blah blah.

The current articles are based on an ‘interview’ conducted by one embedded print journalist, and a single broadcast crew.

Up until now, little has been written in the press about the involvement of Prince Harry in the Afghanistan conflict, either during his current or previous tours of duty. Allegedly, there was a voluntary press black-out in order to protect the Prince and his colleagues. However, when the story that Harry was active Afghanistan was ‘leaked’ in the US publication the American Drudge Report in 2008 during his previous tour of duty, the press still didn’t have access to the Prince in Afghanistan, and could only release stories based on Ministry of Defence’s highly controlled press releases, which inevitably depicted the Prince as some kind of ‘Action Man’.

The release of this current press pack is of no surprise. With public support for British involvement in military operations waning, the propaganda machine needs something to re-instil a sense of national pride in the killing of civilians and apparent enemies of freedom. The government knows that there is little support for their current intervention in Africa.

At a time when military personnel and their loved ones were finally looking forward to an end to the UK’s military involvement in the Middle-East, another conflict happens from nowhere which means that the likelihood of peace is even further away than it was a couple of weeks ago.

The public also see the war machine as a futile and expensive exercise in feeding the egos and pockets of those in power, rather than being a true war of defence against a real enemy. At a time when there are severe cuts to public spending, and the country (or rather the poor and the vulnerable of the country) have to struggle in what is supposed to be a caring society; spending billions on war is not something that is palatable or acceptable.

The lust for blood and power by governments will destroy lives and hope. With the US, and probably other nations, conducting clandestine operations in the Middle-East and Africa to fuel conflict, it makes one wonder who is the true enemy of freedom and justice.

As for Prince Harry – he is just another cog in the propaganda machine.

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