A lethal cocktail of bad publicity

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The Independent Online

"What do you think of all this fuss about Prince Harry and the Nazi uniform, Major?" said the man with the dog.

"What do you think of all this fuss about Prince Harry and the Nazi uniform, Major?" said the man with the dog.

It was early evening in the pub. It seemed natural to consult the Major about military uniforms, even if he had never really been in the Army.

"I thought it was a very wrong choice of costume," said the Major. "This fancy dress party the young prince went to, it was meant to be 'Natives and Colonials', wasn't it? Well, there's nothing very native about an Afrika Korps uniform, and nothing very colonial about it either. Very bad choice. Why didn't he go as an old-style British colonial administrator? Must have been lots of old uniforms knocking around at Buckingham Palace, I should have thought."

There was a pause.

"I mean, the Germans did once have colonies in Africa," said the Major. "Namibia was German, wasn't it? But not in Nazi times. Nazis weren't colonial. They were going to take over the whole world. They didn't need colonies ..."

"That's not really the point, is it?" said the man with the dog. "I think it was all the Nazi associations that people worried about."

"I can't see why," said the Major. "It was an army uniform, not a Nazi party uniform. He dressed up like Rommel, not like Goebbels. Rommel was a nice German. Everyone knows that. He was nicer than Monty, for heaven's sake. Rommel was a good guy and Monty was a little shit. If Prince Harry had dressed up as Monty, that would have been in bad taste."

"Well, at least he wouldn't have had a Nazi armband on," said the man with the dog.

"I think everyone on the German side had to be a Nazi, didn't they?" said the Major. "It was like everyone in Russia had to be a Communist. If you didn't have a Nazi armband and keep Heil Hitlering, you were automatically suspect. Authentic touch by Prince Harry there."

"I still think you don't grasp the point," said the man with the dog. "Nazi armband. Auschwitz. Holocaust. Prince Harry. Lethal cocktail. Bad PR."

"I don't see why," said the Major. "The Afrika Korps had nothing to do with Auschwitz. They were running round in the desert shooting at people. Didn't kill any Jews. Lots of Arabs, perhaps. Not Jews."

"I can see your point," said the resident Welshman, joining the conversation for the first time. "Logically, you're quite right. Logically, there's no link between desert warfare and the Holocaust. But people don't think about these things logically. It's visceral and emotional. Wave a picture of a swastika, and the liberal lobby goes off like a firework. It's the same with us Welsh. Make a joke about sheep, or criticise Dylan Thomas, or any of those things, and we Welsh are up in arms. Pity is, the Welsh lobby are rank amateurs next to the Jewish lobby."

"Then why didn't the Jewish lobby go off like a firework when The Producers came to town?" said the man with the dog. "Plenty of swastikas there."

"Because Mel Brooks is Jewish," said the Welshman. "Because it was a Jewish joke. Because it made money. All those things and more. I don't know why."

"At least Michael Howard didn't ask Mel Brooks to make a public apology for The Producers, "said the man with the dog. "That's one of the strangest developments of our times, Michael Howard demanding that everyone apologise for things. Boris Johnson ... Prince Harry ..."

"He's getting in practice," said the Welshman. "Before much longer he is going to preside over the destruction of the Tory party, and I think someone will require him to make a public apology. And dress in sackcloth and ashes."

"Michael Howard in sackcloth and ashes?" said the man with the dog. "Well, that might give Prince Harry a laugh, at least."