What the third in line to Britain's throne gets up to may reveal the culture of those even closer to it. After all, where did this behaviour come from, in a family which above all believes in inheritance? Add the toxic speciousness of Rupert Murdoch to the mix and the rest of the UK's media can claim to be 'holier than thou'. Why they should think this reflects well on them, however, is hard to comprehend.
The Sun is quite as abhorrent and self-congratulatory as ever in the issue that carries the blurred photos of Prince Harry's "romp" as it is in most of its other issues. Its justification for printing the photos is specious, hypocritical and remarkably creepy, eschewing “moral judgement” on a man who is single, a soldier, and 27 – a lad, in other words - saying, “We like him”. Creepy, I think, in the paper’s desire not to offend readers who it obviously supposes will respond favourably to his conduct.
Nonetheless, it is clearly in the public interest to publish the photos, especially in defiance of Palace officials and lawyers and the wretched Press Complaints Commission. And if ithe Sun's arguments are specious and creepy, so too are those of the editors of Britain's other papers who have so virtuously refused to publish the photos. And is it not absurd to accept that publication intrudes on the prince’s private life, when he has invited some two dozen men and women he scarcely knows to an impromptu strip party in his hotel suite?
It is not just, as the Sun argues, that its readers “have a right to see" the picture. The whole British public including those without access to the web, has the right to know and understand how this privileged third-in-line heir to the throne behaves. Indeed, perhaps we should make it a requirement of citizenship. Britain needs a media that is free and independent-minded enough to inquire into and report on all matters that the authoritieswere rather they were silent on. It is to be hoped that Lord Justice Leveson, who is now completing his report on media ethics, and then Parliament, will uphold this principle, while quite properly establishing robust rules that do protect individuals and their genuine privacy from intrusive and bullying press and television coverage.
Perhaps Leveson could also prohibit misuse of the word, "romp", an innocent word that has been called into service to applaud the dodgy antics of Harry as well as his uncle, Prince Andrew, and, well, lets just say other royals.