A royal Führer.

What the foreign papers are saying.
Jan. 14 2005 1:57 PM

A Royal Führer

Prince Harry dresses up like a Nazi. Discuss.


Prince Harry probably didn't think very hard about his costume before he wore it to the "Colonial and Native" fancy dress party he attended last Saturday. But after an enterprising fellow guest snapped a picture of him sporting the Nazi uniform of an Afrika Korps soldier—complete with swastika—he's had to think about it quite a bit. On Thursday morning the photograph found its way onto the front page of the Sun, one of the United Kingdom's more egregious tabloids, and a storm of controversy was born. The timing could not be worse—in two weeks, Harry's father, Prince Charles, and the queen will be participating in events commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

The royal press team quickly issued Harry's two-sentence written statement: "I am very sorry if I caused any offence or embarrassment to anyone. It was a poor choice of costume and I apologize." The damage, however, was done, and British papers were awash with headlines and editorials surrounding Harry's decision, the saga of the British royal family, and debates over the place of war memories and the Holocaust in contemporary society. The Times of London called for leniency in judging the prince, noting that "Prince Harry might be a boorish hooray and an upper-class twit, but he seems unlikely to be a member of the Nazi party." Instead, the paper argued, we should be wary of allowing "those who masquerade as our moral guardians [to] dress up foolishness as fascism."


Others were not so lenient. As the Scotsman dutifully reported, Harry has already run afoul of the media several times in incidents ranging from soft drugs and drinking to brawling with a photographer last October. An op-ed in the Independent summed up the recent fiasco in simple terms: "Harry is a playboy prince who loves to drink, party and hang out with a bunch of wastrels." The Independent went on to take a punt on Harry's parentage, happily floating the "unfounded speculation that, given the obvious physical dissimilarity from his father and brother, Harry may have been the product of the affair between his mother and the former army officer James Hewitt, whom he does, curiously, resemble."

Thus, the fact that Harry made an idiot of himself came as no surprise, but the Nazi regalia was truly shocking. Numerous public officials spoke out against Harry's decision and called for him to apologize in person. Perhaps the most succinct comment came from Israeli President Moshe Katsav, who, according to the Jerusalem Post, "when shown an illustrated press report, reacted with shock, and allowed an involuntary 'Oy!' to escape his lips." While some officials suggested that Harry was not ready for Sandhurst, the elite military academy he is slated to attend this May, others only wished he could go there sooner. A separate Independent piece quoted Lord Janner, a prominent spokesman on Jewish issues, calling Harry's actions "both stupid and evil. … I would send him in to the Army as fast as possible."

An op-ed in the Guardian had a different take on the Royal blunder, suggesting that the swastika was not the most alarming thing about Harry's costume. Instead, the Guardian argued, we should be alarmed at Harry's determined pursuit of just the right Nazi uniform for the "Colonial and Native" theme.

Harry's mistake was that he didn't do irony. He wore a costume but he didn't dress up. The truly frightening thing about this particular royal gaffe is not that the prince has a perverted sense of humour. It's when you look at his swaggering demeanour in the photographs in today's Sun that it hits you: Harry apparently thinks he looks damned fine in Nazi costume.

Ed Finn is the director of the Center for Science and the Imagination and an assistant professor in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the Department of English at Arizona State University.



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?


Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.