Tuesday, June 19, 2007

NBC News and Matt Lauer interview Princes William and Harry

On Monday, June 18 2007 NBC News featured, at 10 PM (in a program that amounted to a Dateline special) an interview by Matt Lauer of the two princes of the House of Windsor in Britain, William and Harry.

The interview was motivated by the upcoming tenth anniversary of Princess Diana’s death in a horrific automobile accident in a tunnel in Paris on August 31, 1997. The princes plan a concert in honor of her would-be 46th birthday on July 1, and a special commemoration August 31.

The princes have objected to the showing on British TV of the UK Channel 4 documentary called “Diana: The Witnesses in the Tunnel” (dir. Janice Sutherland and Stuart Tanner) that would show graphic photos of the accident. This documentary was aired in Britain but has not yet been scheduled for airing in the US as far as I can tell. The imdb entry is this: UK Channel 4’s site is this: I believe that Channel 4 and "Film Four", often a production company of smaller UK arthouse films, are the same company. Some of the video was placed on You Tube and removed for copyright reasons.

The two men were very relaxed, sitting on a sofa, sleeves rolled up, dressed casually. They discussed their upbringing with their mother, how she shielded their privacy and taught them about charity. Harry appears to be taller. Toward the end, some of Harry’s behavior was glossed over. Both men discussed their affairs dating women gingerly, as they discussed their father’s well known personal life.

The most important issue that came up was the intended deployment of Harry to Iraq, and the decision of the British Army not to deploy him because his “presence” would attract attacks and endanger other troops. Harry, and to a lesser extent William, both talked about unit cohesion in the military, and how the members of a military unit do everything together. (Of course, “unit cohesion” has become a major element in the debate over gays in the military in the US; this issue itself did not come up directly and Britain has lifted the ban.) The “fairness” of the non-deployment came up; it seemed wrong to shelter someone because of “who he is” – and a female soldier close to the royal family had been killed in Iraq recently. Harry is trained as a tank commander, and still could be deployed to Afghanistan.

I was in the middle of relocation to Minneapolis for a corporate transfer and six very interesting years that Labor Day weekend in 1997. I heard about Princess Di while staying with an aunt in a senior center in Oberlin, Ohio, from another resident in the elevator. Later that weekend, I would read a compelling novel manuscript by a friend, whenever possible at food stops while driving the turnpikes and freeways northwest. Once in Minneapolis and got hooked up to Time Warner Cable, the first words that I heard were from Kitty Kelly discussing the Royals and how truth is not a defense to libel in Britain. And I had just made myself a published author. It is a time that I remember well.

Of course, when we interview royalty, even in a modern constitutional monarchy like Britain, we are reminded of the past view of the family and marriage, partly as a way to legitimatize property and political power -- everything. (Remember the opening of the recent Coppola film "Marie Antoinette".) Today, the best concept of the family may be what Kay Hymowitz calls "republican marriage" in her recent book on marriage and caste, reference here.

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