There has been much public discussion about a recent comment made by Prince Charles of Britain comparing the actions of Russia in Crimea to those of the Nazis in World War II. The uproar has revived all sorts of questions about the right of royalty, especially monarchs, to speak their mind on public matters which could adversely affect the international relations of the United Kingdom with the rest of the world. Some have even had the audacity, and total disrespect, to express the view that monarchs should be seen and not heard.
Before the media will begin their usual drumbeat of questioning whether Britain even needs a monarchy anymore, perhaps it is time to present a defense of Prince Charles and his comments. For surely even the critics of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and her family would not deny their right, like any British Citizen, like any human being, to have people speak up in their defense. Then again, considering the behavior of the British Press over the past few decades, particularly in light of the Hacking Scandals, perhaps they would deny Prince Charles such a basic right.
Point One: The Content and Context of The Remark
Was Prince Charles making a remark which was anti-social, inhumane, or untrue? Is it not a fact that the invasion of Crimea by Russia was an act in violation of some of the most fundamental principles of international law? Is it not true that most leaders of the world, particularly in Europe, have agreed that President Putin’s policy toward Crimea has violated established norms in the post-Cold War, if not post-World War II era? That being the case, how is a passing comment made during a private conversation comparing Russia’s recent behavior to that of the Nazis so incorrect? Did Prince Charles grab a microphone and shout this comment over the airwaves? Or to a large publc audience? Of course not.
It was merely a passing remark to another individual. Yet for this he must suffer the indignity and disrespect of British Officials and Media to accuse him of jeapordizing British international relations? How absurd!
Point Two: The Right of Free Speech for Royalty
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg correctly expressed the view, in the midst of the present controversy, that Prince Charles is free to express himself. Indeed he is. Contrary to popular opinion, Royalty happen to be human beings too. As the late Princess Diana clearly demonstrated to the world, and as her children are presently doing as well. Are they not entitled to express their views on matters of national and international policy? Especially if their views happen to be quite appropriate?
Has the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland become so obsessed with the sensitivities of foreign leaders, in the name of protecting trade relations and financial commerce, that it is willing to denigrate its own symbols of national sovereignty? When they have done nothing more than speak on basic principle? Has Whitehall, Fleet Street, and the internet sunk so low that this is now acceptable?
Point Three: Do As We Say, Not As We Do.
The above heading for Point Three is one which historically used to be attributed to monarchs and the hypocrisy of their comments in conjunction with their actual conduct. It has been a most accurate phrase when applied to most monarchies of the past, and continues to be applicable to the remaining royalty of the present. But in this particular case, it is also applicable to the critics of Prince Charles.
How can Prince Charles be criticized for his remark about Russia’s conduct in Crimea, made in private, when similar comments have been made by international, European, and American officials, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe? How can media in print, on radio and television, and online, make even more blatant public comparisons between Russia and Nazi Germany, while the future monarch of Britain is supposed to choose his words carefully in a private conversation? Political correctness has gone too far!
Final Point: Who is the party truly offended?
Let us be honest about the real reason this story has taken on such public fascination. Russian officials in the Kremlin have taken offense at the comment by Prince Charles, and are trying to fire up a diplomatic incident, maybe even an economic one. So be it. In case nobody in London has noticed, the world, and particularly Europe, has fallen back into a Second Cold War. Despite protestations to the contrary, there can be no denying this fact. How will Britain face this new challenge? How will its royalty deal with these new potential threats to their kingdom? What would Winston Churchill have said about Russia’s conduct if he were alive today? Does Britain prefer a future monarch who is another Chamberlain?
Should it not instead applaud a Prince who, in the slightest possible way, is exhibiting similar qualities to those of his grandfather and that generation?
If the United Kingdom is so concerned about retaining its status as an independent nation, free of foreign influences such as the European Union, then perhaps it should not be so concerned to stifle the independent thought and spirit of its monarchy in favor of Russian and Chinese sensibilities.