Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cry, God, for Harry, England, and an indecisive military

It is reported that Prince Harry of Wales will not, after all, be deployed with the rest of his unit to Iraq. A few weeks ago he wasn’t; then he was; now he isn’t again. The reason given is that insurgents ‘had planned to kill or kidnap the prince’, and that the threats necessitated a reconsideration of ‘security situation’ surrounding him.

Cranmer would like to bring to the attention of the Chief of the General Staff the words of another royal Harry, who positively gloried in the ‘security situation’ of the French insurgents at Agincourt:

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.


Shakespeare articulated to the point of literary perfection the patriotism of war and the celebration of valour. He engraved upon the British psyche the notion of service with leadership, fusing royalty with the military to the point of making it a raison d’être of the Monarchy. This echoes some of the most prevalent themes of Scripture, in which the Lord is portrayed as a warrior throughout the Old Testament, and in the New, believers are exhorted to put on the full armour of God in order to wage war against the prince of the power of the air.

The main problem with the reasons given by the Chief of the General Staff for not deploying Prince Harry is that Iraqi insurgents would, in fact, kill or kidnap any British soldier, given half a chance. This decision therefore hands them a degree of victory. It is said Prince Harry’s presence would endanger the lives of others, yet in combats, helmet, camouflage, and blacked up, it is unlikely that one soldier may easily be distinguished from another. And it is perfectly possible to keep deployment decisions out of the media, and halt the perpetual conjecture about his precise location.

The decision is also an affront to the parents of all those soldiers already killed in combat - as if royal blood were somehow of greater worth – and it is also potentially damaging to the Royal Family, who are now obliged to perpetuate an impression of exemption: one’s subjects may die in defence of one’s realm, but one has to be manifestly exempt from participating in that defence in case one is harmed.

Prince Harry is evidently a man of courage and conviction, and his own sense of self-worth is certain to have been damaged by this. His media portrayal as a ‘playboy’ is unremittingly negative, and he has now been deprived of an opportunity to prove his worth. Military combat is, after all, what he has been trained for. He has previously been reported as saying: ‘There is no way I'm going to…sit on my arse back home while my boys are out fighting for their country.’ Sadly for him, he now will. And he shall doubtless think himself accursed that he was not there. And as he hears, week by week, of his comrades, Dave and Derek, who have fallen on the battlefield, the resentment and regret may well be life-long.

PS
Cranmer wishes his Communicants a blessed Ascension Day
(and a measly PS is just about precisely what the Church has made this most important of Christian festivals)

31 Comments:

Anonymous The Recusant said...

This is such a bad decision for all the reasons Your Grace has highlighted and more. Prince Harry has an uncle who gave sterling service in the Falklands conflict and earned the respect wearing the South Atlantic Medal gives. Harry will rightly feel hard done by when his comrades, having shared the danger and risk, wear their Gulf decorations and he has none, I would not want to stand at the Cenotaph every year in his shoes. If only some of our brightest and best are to be sent then the Prince should take off the uniform, as he will only be playing at soldiers like his later Hanoverian ancestors. This will be a huge blow to the young mans self-respect and I suspect a source of anger and frustration for many years to come.

I was struck by what the General said, that we went out to assess the situation last week. Is this the first time a General has gone on a reccy mission for a subaltern.

17 May 2007 at 10:00  
Anonymous Voyager said...

I have sufficient regard for General Sir Michaeol Dannatt to support his decision, whichever decision it was to be.

There are so few people worthy of respect, but his comments earlier in the year show him to be a man worthy of regard and esteem.

There was the only son of Louis Napoleon, Napoleon III of France was killed at Ulundi by Zulus in June 1879 causing great embarrassment to Britain.


It is a very long time since a British monarch's family fought in combat with the Army and never against insurgents in a counter-terrorism war. Prince Charles never deployed to Northern Ireland.

George VI as Prince Albert was a Midshipman at Jutland by chance....but the Royal Navy is a very different world from the British Army - though no doubt their ability to be captured by Iran made these issues more salient.

If I cannot leave the General in charge of the British army to make decisions on operational matters he should be removed and replaced by a politician so we can vote on such matters.

If you believe in an Army as a hierarchical structure you must accept the decision of the Chief of the General Staff....second-guessing soldiers is not good policy

17 May 2007 at 11:10  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Is this the first time a General has gone on a reccy mission for a subaltern.

A very silly comment...I do hope the CGS does visit theatre to discuss the situation with his operational commanders....even Alanbrooke was known to do that.....but let us take an example of Churchill.

When the British Army was to cross the Rhine at Rees the operation was delayed so Churchill could witness the event....untold numbers of men died because of that delay in crossing.....operational timescales were shifted to German advantage

17 May 2007 at 11:13  
Blogger Terry Hamblin said...

Prince Harry ought to have the same rights as Jow Bloggs as an army officer. This includes the right not to have the press blaring, "Joe Bloggs is coming to Iraq. Come and have a pot shot at him!"

17 May 2007 at 11:46  
Anonymous The Recusant said...

'I have sufficient regard for General Sir Michaeol Dannatt to support his decision, whichever decision it was to be.'
Is it sore sitting on that fence?

'It is a very long time since a British monarch's family fought in combat'
25 years to my knowledge, and don't forget both Mountbatten and Prince Phillip saw active duty in WWII, I don’t think it is that long ago.

'If I cannot leave the General in charge of the British army to make decisions on operational matters he should be removed and replaced by a politician so we can vote on such matters.' –
This is an out of theatre deployment prior to operations and not operational. Such decisions are normally left to an individual OC, not the scrutiny of his general, certainly not the CGS. The thing about wearing the Queens Uniform is that it derives from proverbial one-size fits all mentality; we no longer sell commissions to the landed gentry or privileged classes. Promotion is on merit not sponsorship, all share the same training, risk and reward and irrespective of him being a Prince, I believe that is the impression he was under when he joined up.

'If you believe in an Army as a hierarchical structure you must accept the decision of the Chief of the General Staff....second-guessing soldiers is not good policy'
There was a time when I had to but no more, as a civvy I can and in this instance do dissent from the CGS decision, hierarchical or not.

Churchill was renowned for interfering in Military decision making mostly with disastrous results, he may have been a splendid wartime prime minister and a brave soldier in his time but his military acumen left a lot to be desired at staff level. However this does not detract from the central tenet that Prince Harry, a serving soldier is to be prevented from serving with his troop. Whether Gen Dannatt was unduly influenced by the MOD, we can only guess but look at the record of this Govt, on balance do they have a record of interfering?

Accepting a General Staff appointment is accepting a political appointment, the Govt would not promote an individual to such a position it could not work with, and remember, the PUS and the serving minister at this level as well as the senior officers appointments board clear all such promotions.

As for my silly comment, ignoring the fact Harry is a Prince, can you show me an instance of any other General concerning himself with a subaltern’s deployment? These matters are delegated for good reason, so the General Staff can get on with planning and fighting the war without being distracted by the minutiae of logistics and personnel. Once you accept excuses for exceptions, its only the pretext that changes.

17 May 2007 at 13:22  
Anonymous Voyager said...

the recusant is being very deceitful...compare and contrast what Voyager wrote

t is a very long time since a British monarch's family fought in combat with the Army

with what the recusant wrote:

'It is a very long time since a British monarch's family fought in combat'
25 years to my knowledge, and don't forget both Mountbatten and Prince Phillip saw active duty in WWII, I don’t think it is that long ago.


Now we can discuss why the Royal Navy is not the British Army. We can also ask in WWII who was "Prince Philip" exactly and what did he have to do with the King of England ?

This is an out of theatre deployment prior to operations and not operational.

Total drivel. Deployment of battlegroups is operational. Iraq is an operational area and the area of deployment so thoughtfully broadcast by the media is near the Iranian frontier.

I am sorry to see how you attempted to distort what I wrote very precisely. I do not feel great goodwill towards persons who wilfully set out to distort as you have just done.

Whatever your particular problem with the Royal Family and the British Army may be, do not try to cut and paste my words in an attempt to distort as you blatantly tried to do. Such mendacity suggests flawed character

17 May 2007 at 13:39  
Anonymous billy said...

".....combats, helmet, camouflage, and blacked up"

Are we sending minstrels to fight alongside the TA in our unnecessary foreign wars, Your Grace?

17 May 2007 at 13:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Duke of Gloucester's son Lord Ulster is with the King's Royal Hussars.

I believe they are to be deployed in Iraq. He has previously served in Kosovo.

17 May 2007 at 16:15  
Anonymous The Recusant said...

My Voyager, neither deceitful of mendacious I refute your implied and totally incorrect supposition that RN service (or RAF for that matter) is in some way less hazardous in their own theatre than serving in the army during conflict. The current Iraqi/Afghanistan conflicts are primarily a ground operation and it goes without saying one would expect higher troop casualties in this event.

But by deliberately and selectively imposing a blind spot to support your position that serving in the RN or RAF does not qualify as fighting for ones country is just bizarre.

To clarify ‘This (being the UK) is an out of theatre deployment prior to operations and not operational’. Meaning that this decision had been taken now, in blighty where one would normally have expected his OC to make such a decision having the time and opportunity.

You lost me in your accusation that I have particular problem with the Royal Family and the British Army but anyway you are wrong on both counts, nor was I aware I had earned your goodwill or indeed had to. Perhaps a little respect for a contrary view point would be welcome, a little less patronising and insulting behaviour but if not I'll loose no sleep over it. I still enjoy reading your contributions and tend to agree with more than I disagree but perhaps that is my flawed character speaking.

17 May 2007 at 16:50  
Anonymous Colin said...

A nice story for the yellow press.

Or does anybody really believe that the course of history depends on a boy born with a silverspoon in his mouth trying to play Rambo in the military instead of having fun with his girl friends.

Such endless soap operas are the opium for the people, the modern equivalent of the famous Bread and Games in ancient Rome aimed at distracting the populace from the real issues. The fate of Great Britain is not decided in Iraq but at home, in Londonistan.

Mr. Recusant,

With all due respect, occupying a foreign country which has not attacked Britain "does not qualify as fighting for ones country". In my humble view, it is attempted robbery.

But I agree with your observations concerning Voyager's sometimes strange behaviour. It is also my experience that I enjoy reading his contributions and tend to agree with him more than I disagree. On the other hand, his lack of respect for a contrary view combined with patronising and insulting behaviour makes it hard for me to really like an otherwise erudite man. Don't worry. Everybody is able to see who is suffering from a flawed character. And everybody can sense that you are an honest person. I always felt that way even when we had disagreements. The same goes for others on this blog who I respect such as His Grace, Bob, Miss Jelly Bean, Croydonian, Newmania to name just a few. I guess we have to accept Voyager the way he is, i.e. erudite, outspoken, and amusing in his unsaid claim to be the allknowing. We might not always like his insults. But without him this blog would be poorer and more boring, wouldn't it.

17 May 2007 at 17:44  
Anonymous billy said...

The Recusant said...

But by deliberately and selectively imposing a blind spot to support your position that serving in the RN or RAF does not qualify as fighting for ones country is just bizarre.

4:50 PM

It isn't bizarre if you are a soldier.

17 May 2007 at 17:59  
Anonymous Alexandrian said...

Politically speaking, the decision strikes me as a rather unhappy one.

I am prepared to say this, even though I have no particular expertise in politics.

However, my expertise in military matters is considerably less - and since my understanding is that this decision was taken by a military man on military grounds, I am not really in any position to argue.

17 May 2007 at 18:20  
Anonymous Voyager said...

But by deliberately and selectively imposing a blind spot to support your position that serving in the RN or RAF does not qualify as fighting for ones country is just bizarre.

Your comment is not one I support.

It is simply that a soldier has much more close-quarter fighting than any seaman or airman is likely to experience, and is a reason women are not permitted in front-line combat with the Army but can visit Iran whenever invited.

Anyone who thinks being an infantry soldier is equivalent to being a sailor or an airman is seriously deluded.

17 May 2007 at 18:38  
Anonymous Dick Turpin said...

Your Grace,

A few points. How on earth, would people respond today to 'real' leaders with star quality - like Julius Caesar - political, killing and sex machine par excellence? I suppose JFK is one of the last in living memory. Ex-commander of PT-109, bonking Marilyn Monroe with his finger on the nuclear button - what a guy.

A letter in the Mail made the comment that the Argentinian high command knew that the Falklands was lost, when they discovered that senior officers were leading from the front. This was referring to the death of Colonel H Jones. The lower ranks also feared coming into contact with the Gurkhas - much like the WW2 Americans. Leading by example and reputation is all.

17 May 2007 at 18:44  
Anonymous Cardinal Martini's Cocktail Olive said...

Good grief - what is the point of having a hereditary military aristocracy if they're not going to get themselves blown to bits on the battlefield now & then? There can be no life more pointless than that of the younger son of a monarch. What else is the Junker von Battenburg for exactly?

17 May 2007 at 23:59  
Anonymous Voyager said...

I suppose JFK is one of the last in living memory. Ex-commander of PT-109,

Not quite as it is written up however.

I thought George Bush Sr had been a tail gunner on bombing raids over Tokyo....rIchard Nixon in the US Navy, Eisenhower as GOC Allied Land Forces

Helmut Schmidt Flak-Leutnant Eastern Front

18 May 2007 at 07:19  
Anonymous Voyager said...

You might want to go and read up on what happened to French Special Forces soldiers captured in Afghanistan.....it certainly seemed to churn the stomachs of British soldiers trying to recue them

18 May 2007 at 07:21  
Anonymous Observer said...

There is only one reason to put Prince Harry into Iraq...as a pretext to launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran. On this basis I would support sending him and putting nuclear submarines on station for a full thermonuclear attack on Iranian military targets

18 May 2007 at 07:23  
Anonymous Sod the war anyway but... said...

I hope this doesn't wreck his life. Why was he allowed to play soldiers at this level if he was never to be allowed near danger?

There is just perhaps a faint hope that it is all a smokescreen and he really is going there.

18 May 2007 at 08:19  
Anonymous billy said...

Sod the war anyway but... said...
I hope this doesn't wreck his life. Why was he allowed to play soldiers at this level if he was never to be allowed near danger?

8:19 AM

Playing soldiers is exactly what he is doing. Whatever he does it will only be play; it is what his family does.

I'm with voyager on the army v the others debate. The navy doesn't win wars and the raf can't be relied on to turn up and drop bombs in the right place. The squaddies do the work.

18 May 2007 at 08:47  
Anonymous Voyager said...

I hope this doesn't wreck his life. Why was he allowed to play soldiers at this level if he was never to be allowed near danger?.

We let women play soldiers too....actually we all do....there are only around 30.000 infantrymen in the British Army it is so small as to be highly vulnerable.

I think people delude themselves about the full mediocrity of our position and our capabilities - I just don't think Pribce Harry adds to force strength in theatre, rather he reduces it. From a military standpoint the GOC has to build on his strengths irrespective of personalities and celebrities; it is a fighting force not a photo opportunity and Britain is the weaker party in the conflict

18 May 2007 at 08:56  
Blogger Snafu said...

There is a difference though, the first Harry was only fighting cheese eating surrender monkeys, the second Harry's up against fundamentalists!

18 May 2007 at 13:49  
Anonymous Miss Jelly bean said...

Observer said...
"There is only one reason to put Prince Harry into Iraq...as a pretext to launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran. On this basis I would support sending him and putting nuclear submarines on station for a full thermonuclear attack on Iranian military targets"

And what do you hope to achieve by doing that Observer? Has it officially become a mission for the West to invade any and every country possible in the middle-east to make 'peace' in the region? It's quite disturbing and disgusting that you can talk about invading more countries after the state you've put the people of Iraq in. The aim is to form a 'stable' democratic state in iraq, right? But for who? The broken buildings? Or is it for the orphaned child who's limbs have been blown off? Oh, but of course! As snafu rightly said, that maimed orphan is a fundamentalist and must therefore be fought against. Sorry, my bad! Never thought of it that way.

18 May 2007 at 18:29  
Blogger shergar said...

It's all very well quoting Shakespeare, but compare the theatres: Agincourt, WWI, WWII, the Falklands, there were recognised front lines and conventions for treatment of POWs.
Iraq -- no front line and no Geneva convention.
Talk of blacked out faces is fatuous. The insurgents would swiftly discover Harry's battalion's whereabouts and would concentrate resources. The top brass are correct in this instance, in my opinion.

18 May 2007 at 21:11  
Anonymous Colin said...

"Has it officially become a mission for the West to invade any and every country possible in the middle-east to make 'peace' in the region? It's quite disturbing and disgusting that you can talk about invading more countries after the state you've put the people of Iraq in."

Miss Jelly Bean is absolutely correct. This thread sounds like the meeting of militarists on a "Christian" blog and is as funny as Harry with his swatiska.

18 May 2007 at 21:46  
Anonymous Observer said...

Has it officially become a mission for the West to invade any and every country possible in the middle-east to make 'peace' in the region?.

No reason not to. But to answer your question I said there was no reason to put a celebrity into Iraq other than to instigate conflict with Iran, which showed its stupidity over the Royal Navy personnel.

Prince Harry would be ideal as bait to trap the Iranians - he has no other value in Iraq

18 May 2007 at 22:21  
Anonymous Observer said...

This thread sounds like the meeting of militarists on a "Christian" blog and is as funny as Harry with his swaStiska.


Colin would do well to read the title of the thread
Cry, God, for Harry, England, and an indecisive military

Swastikas are for Hindus, but if you find fancy dress so disturbing no doubt you'll condemn him for wearing a nonsensical uniform....Afrika Korps did not wear NSDAP armbands

18 May 2007 at 22:23  
Anonymous Dick Turpin said...

Voyager said...

"Not quite as it is written up however"

Any bloke who faced the Japanese fleet ...in a motorised canoe ...instead of staying at home looking after daddie's money ...gets my vote

Also, I bet George Bush Sr., Richard Nixon, Dwight Eisenhower and Helmut Schmidt ...didn't get anywhere near to ******* Marilyn Monroe!

19 May 2007 at 02:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure I would want to get near Norma Jean and her scars from seven abortions

19 May 2007 at 06:51  
Anonymous Dick Turpin said...

Aniny Mouse said

"Not sure I would want to get near Norma Jean and her scars from seven abortions"

Are you saying that women who have abortions are inferior in some way? ...how very unpost modern old chap.

Although I can see that you're probably the type of person who might prefer Polly Toynbee in Lycra ...perhaps even John Prescott in Y fronts ...oh well, to each his own.

I rest my case your Grace. Britain today is a country that sneers at courage and would rather watch Youtube when having the good fortune to be locked in a bedroom with Marilyn Monroe. We get the leaders we deserve.

19 May 2007 at 18:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you saying that women who have abortions are inferior in some way? ...how very unpost modern old chap.

You missed the scars...perhaps uterine scar tissue is not something you are familiar with

20 May 2007 at 09:16  

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