Saturday, 25 August 2012

Prince Harry is no Renaissance Man

Bearing as he does some accidental - and not so accidental - parallels to Henry The Eighth of That Name, it may be interesting to see how these parallels hold up to examination.

The first parallel is, of course, the name. Henry. As far as I can ascertain, King Henry had only one name, while Prince Harry has several (Henry Charles Albert David). The other most obvious parallel is the ginger hair.

Now let's look for others. Both are second sons. Both attended the weddings of their older brothers, whose brides were both called Catherine (or Katherine). Both Prince Harry and Henry (in his youth at least) were fond of physical activity and militarism.

That's about where it ends. The most obvious contrast between the two is that King Henry as a youth had quite a decent and challenging education, as befitted a younger son destined possibly for some high office in the Catholic church. Henry's rebuttal of Martin Luther, Assertio septem sacramentorum, published in 1521, was deemed a competent if unoriginal work and earned him the title Defender of the Faith. Educated in grammar, rhetoric and logic, he would probably have made a stimulating companion, capable of building a serious argument in discussion. He is also known as having other accomplishments, such as composing some pleasant if unremarkable music, and being versed in the arts of the apothecary, often preparing his own remedies. We can imagine Henry developing into an interesting and enlightened Renaissance man, if he were not stressed and corrupted by the power of kingship. But that's another story...

What of Prince Harry? The sheer banality of his recent on-leave activities is numbing, as is the blokey reaction of so many (men, mostly) who assert that he has every right to romp around naked in some stunningly vulgar Las Vegas hotel with other "fun-loving" and empty-headed types since he is a. single and b. an army officer who has served on the front line, risking his life for his country and grandma.

Hang on a minute. He is 27 years old, not some callow youth rejoicing in his first off-leash excursion. I don't deny his right to lark around like this. Frankly I am not that interested.

What I find disturbing is that this adolescent behaviour, where at least some of earth's women were considered merely playthings, has been excused and even admired and envied by so many.

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