Prince Harry: ‘I generally don't like England that much’
Whichever of these be true, this sentence strikes the only dissonant note as Prince Harry returns from front-line duties in Afghanistan, where he has done his bit for Grandmother and the Country he doesn’t like that much, confronting the forces of the Taliban.
But there was something about the photograph of the rugby-playing prince that caused Cranmer to wonder whether his contempt for England was instilled on the playing fields of Eton, or, more precisely, in the classrooms of The King's College of Our Lady of Eton beside Windsor.
For England gets a pretty raw deal in the school curriculum - even that of an independent school. As Peter Hitchens has noted, the nation’s children are being taught a perverse perspective on English history, so much so that Orwell may have had a point when he wrote that this country's intellectuals were unique in the world for their hatred of their own nationality.
It seems that teachers are hastening a ‘slow-motion national suicide’ without having a clue about what they are doing. Mr Hitchens refers to a group of 13-year-olds in a school in East Anglia who were learning about the Spanish Armada – ‘that pivotal moment in our island story’. Their assignment was a little role-play: ‘You are a Spanish sailor about to embark in the Spanish Armada. Draw an anti-English poster to show all the reasons why you are invading the country.’ They also had to design a ‘spider diagram of at least four reasons why Spain was angry enough with England to want to invade’.
Apparently, this is all ‘in line with the National Curriculum’, and the teachers ‘didn't see anything wrong with it’.
At which point, Mr Hitchens suggests the teachers try substituting ‘Germany’ for ‘Spain’, ‘the Blitz’ for ‘Armada’, and ‘Luftwaffe airman’ for ‘Spanish sailor’. He then hopes they might get his point, for the nation’s history, taught to the young in schools, ‘is the lore of the tribe, the basis of our identity and pride’.
But there is something about the ever-distant perspectives of history which seem to render it acceptable to empathise with the Hitlers of a few centuries ago, but not with those of 50 years ago. Consider the EU’s prestige award is the ‘Charlemagne Prize’ for services to European integration. Tony Blair graciously accepted this award a few years back, yet Charlemagne was every bit as barbaric as Hitler, slaying thousands in his quest for a European empire. And now we honour his memory with an award, rather like we welcome the terrorists of yesteryear to the lawn of the White House, or to Downing Street - Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, Colonel Gaddafi, Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Shamir, Nelson Mandela…
It may not be too long before Osama Bin Laden is being fêted with a Nobel Peace Prize.
Prince Harry’s generation is a victim of an education system which has taught the English to be ashamed – of their nation, their identity, their history and their religion. They retain a residual patriotism, but it is limited now to sporting fixtures. All talk of a Golden Age - victories in wars, the Empire, national pride, ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, the Union flag - has been silenced by shame and confusion. And Mr Hitchens asserts that ‘radical teachers’ have colluded in this, rendering all school history ‘deliberately confusing’, with the youngest and most impressionable minds ‘vulnerable to the BBC's anti-British propaganda and the Leftist monopoly that runs the universities’.
So Prince Harry may not like England that much, but it is an England that will, one day, have schoolchildren writing essays criticising him for 'posing like a terrorist' and going to war against Islam. They will read the speeches of those British Muslims who have said the Prince is now a ‘legitimate target’ for assassination; they will be asked to empathise with the Taliban on how they would feel if a Western-Royal-Christian aggressor had illegally invaded their sovereign territory, prosecuting a war on behalf of that spawn-of-Satan George W Bush. And they shall conclude that Islam means ‘peace’, and that Christians bring the sword; that Shari’a inculcates respect, while Christian morality has failed; and that the poor, underdog Taliban were in the right, and that Prince Harry was in the wrong. And how it was ultimately justifiable that a religious group managed to kill him.
Rather like they are taught about His Grace…