Belatedly adding my three paise to the clamour about Prince Harry wearing the Nazi costume to that fancy-dress party. My initial reaction to the news - to seeing the young prince sporting the Hitler-appropriated swastika - was a shudder that had a lot to do with having recently read both Roth’s The Plot Against America and Philip K Dick’s The Man in the High Castle (Axis powers win WWII, America ruled jointly by Japan and Germany) – both books based on the point-of-divergence (POD) concept: how might history have turned out if one event had occurred differently.
I’m diverging from the original point myself. At first I was influenced by the tabloid-festered speculation about how Harry is part of a generation that’s inured to the horrors of Nazi Germany, and even finds an attraction in neo-Nazism: the skinheads angle. Now those are still very valid points. But let’s stick specifically to this incident. Of course Harry deserved a rap on the knuckles, deserved to be hauled up in public. Even giving him full benefit of doubt regarding his intentions, he comes across at the very least as a silly little prince (for numerous other, more substantial, reasons too). It may be true that no one would have thought twice about the incident if there wasn’t a high-profile figure involved, but like it or not public figures do need to be extra careful about their actions. Especially when - and I know this is hard to swallow - there are still people in this day and age who look up to the monarchy and get their cues from the actions of the Royals.
But the issue should have ended with the rap on the knuckles and the subsequent apology - it should never have been stretched and stretched by the media to the point where someone can blog about it weeks later and still feel like they’re writing about a burning topic of the day. The way the press has gone to town about the incident, the virulence of their reporting, the pornographic glee of it all …well, it’s the sort of fanaticism the Führer himself would’ve Heiled.
(P.S. Incidentally there was a misleading news report in one of the papers the other day, which said the theme of the party Harry went to was "tasteless costumes". That would probably have justified the prince’s indiscretion to an extent, though I doubt the media response would have been any different. But anyway, the report was wrong: it was actually a “colonial and native” theme.)