A jarringly inappropriate nationalistic speech from Prince William hit entirely the wrong tone and drew desultory applause at the commemoration ceremony for the start of the First World War, in Belgium today.
William’s whole attitude was based on the ludicrous jingoistic myth that there was a “right” and a “wrong” side in the First World War. This attitude pervaded the entire sickening performance. More than once he said we were “grateful” to Belgium for its “staunch resistance”. He mentioned the execution of Edith Cavell and the burning of the library of Loeven, with no balance of the equal war crimes on the other side.
In the dreadful nationalistic war between rival Imperial powers, the Belgian Empire was probably the most evil of all. To commend its resistance is ridiculous. Joseph Conrad’s great “Heart of Darkness” and “Congo Diary”, and the formal revelation by British Consul Roger Casement of the dreadful enslavement and abuse of the Congo population to provide vast profits to the Belgian crown, provide lasting testimony to the malignity of the Belgian Empire.
William referred to Cavell’s execution: he did not mention the execution of the heroic Roger Casement by the British, another key incident of the First World War.
The First World War was a terrible, terrible event. The millions of soldiers may have been activated by motives they believed to be noble, but the cause of war was the rival desires for aggrandisement of the very rich who ran and profited from the Empires. The Second World War was a fight against the evil philosophy of fascism, but there was no such cause for the First World War, which was simply a clash between Empires, and whose vindictive conclusion laid the foundations for fascism.
Commemorations which play to the “good side” “bad side” myth are uncalled for and should be widely condemned. That we still have a monarch-led elite which cannot admit the First World War is wrong is ludicrous. William stands baldly revealed as a reactionary ass.