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Breaking Down News: A Royal Gaffe Again

The UK's Prince Philip should send the British media a bill for all the unpaid royalties of a lifetime, deriving from his attempts at cheeky humour

Written by Pratik Kanjilal | Updated: July 25, 2015 4:30 am

Le gormint, c’est moi! By carrying on like a maximum leader rather than a lieutenant governor, Najeeb Jung has made Delhi ripe for some kind of revolution, though the only possible revolutionaries are flagging in spirit and energy and now broadcast to the street through government advertisements rather than microphones. The capital’s buses and bus shelters are plastered with an unbelievably boring and whiney ad which alleges that the Kejriwal government is struggling to work for the people, while the central government tries to stymie it with unflagging meanness. Wonder who this ad is aimed at. For the AAP constituency, being boring is almost as criminal as being corrupt.

At the central level, things are livelier. Were it not for the convention of privilege, there would be a compelling fiscal argument for MPs to be charged entertainment tax almost every session. And reasonably speaking, there should be a surcharge if the ruling party knows that the weather report warns of storms in the well of the House, but carries on regardless. Live television coverage was supposed to encourage MPs to behave like gentlefolk representing responsible parties, but it has failed to curb their enthusiasm.

The big global news is that the Financial Times did not go to Thomson Reuters or Bloomberg as expected, but to Nikkei. Wonder why no one saw it coming, since Nikkei, after which the Tokyo index is named, has been looking to break out of Japan for a long time. That’s right, the top business publication and the stock index bear the same name, and this is not a coincidence. Could this be the basis of the next big financial thriller? Looking at the plot through an Indian lens brings clarity. Would you feel comfortable reading newspapers named Sensex or Nifty? And what would you think if they took over an international pink paper? Tremendous possibilities for conspiracy fiction.

It’s getting pretty hot in general in the UK, and no reflection on the weather. The Sun set a fuse sputtering over last weekend by publishing footage of the Queen of England in 1933, cheerfully giving the camera the Nazi salute along with the Queen Mother, her sister Princess Margaret and her uncle, who would be crowned Edward VIII. It was well before the world was agreed that Hitler was an epic thug and anyway, the future Queen was just six years old at the time and not wholly responsible for her actions. But common sense has never deterred the British media from starting a ruckus.

The private video, just a few seconds long, has inflicted massive collateral damage on Prince Philip, recalling all the lurid stories about his early years in Germany, and the famous photograph of him, aged 16, in a funeral procession in Darmstadt, surrounded by relatives in the uniform of Brownshirts and the SS, while the crowd seems to be going, “Sieg heil!”

The Daily Mail also referred to a picture in which Prince Philip’s youngest sister Sophie is seen sitting across from Hitler at the wedding reception of Hermann Goering. Doubtless this will also figure in a Channel 4 documentary coming up soon titled, Prince Philip: The Plot to Make a King. Meanwhile, Philip is carrying on regardless. Last week, when workers at a community centre presented the Queen with a sponge cake, he asked them cheerily: “Who do you sponge off?”

As usual, the people he was addressing were surprised rather than upset, but the media and the weird tribe of royalty watchers were most excited. Really, the prince should send them a bill for all the unpaid royalties of a lifetime, deriving from his attempts at cheeky humour.

pratik.kanjilal@expressindia.com

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