Disgraceful Partisanship from Prince William 103

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.

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103 thoughts on “Disgraceful Partisanship from Prince William

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  • Graham Harris Graham (@GHarrisG)

    And another pointless Royal presence was felt at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony too, last night.

    If Scotland chooses a new form of governance next month, do we really want 19th century style characetures of the aristocracy to be our top tier spokespersons like the talentless Prince Edward or the pompously titled, Lord Smith of Kelvin?

    And as Prince William proved so easily yesterday in Belgium, they’re not really very good at anything.

  • passerby

    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.

    The countless mutilated, and limbless Congolese will attest to the barbarity of the “staunch resistors” aka Belgian Empire.

    Revisionism 101 up close and personal.

  • MerkinOnParis

    Quite correct Craig.
    Cutting arms off was not the invention of some black guy with sunglasses.
    The plucky little Belgian government made it an art form.
    PS I bought a dictionary of the Afghan language by Captain Raverty.
    The introductory notes are a revelation.

  • John Couzin

    As long as we have the same power mongers at the top, we will get the same myths perpetuated. They will never admit they were to blame, the blame lies somewhere else as far as they are concerned.

  • CheebaCow

    I generally agree with you that there was not a ‘good’ side and a ‘bad’ side in WW1, in that all the major participants were empires…. However surely it was the Central Powers that were the most responsible for the outbreak of the war, being the most aggressive of all the major powers. The political landscape was indeed terrible, but I wonder, once Ferdinand was assassinated, how would you have recommended the Allies behaved to avoid war? Leave Serbia to Austria-Hungary and cross their fingers that the Russians didn’t get involved? Maybe that would of been the wisest course of action, but hardly problem free either.

    “and whose vindictive conclusion laid the foundations for fascism.”

    This was what I was taught growing up, and until recently I had little sympathy for the Allies post WW1 treatment of Germany. More recently I have been reading up on WW1 quite a bit and the sheer horror of the war. With the millions dead and the horrific experiences of all those who had to fight, I’m not surprised the Allies tried to crush Germany in the post war settlement. No war had ever caused so much devastation and horror, I can’t exactly begrudge the allies from thinking they had to prevent a repeat by any means necessary. It is not exactly intuitive that rebuilding a prosperous Germany would prevent another ‘great’ war. Hindsight is always 20/20.

  • Francisco

    Don’t the royals have to read out pre written speeches approved by FCO in these situations? I don’t wish to defend the speech (I haven’t yet heard it) but I suppose they have to repeat what they are told. Love your blog, a place where I can obtain decent context on the news plus your project on Robert Burns.

  • brendan

    The second world war was fought against the evil philosophy of fascism? The evils of communism (which has dispatched far more to their graves than fascism) was why western bankers built up and armed the Nazis. Read some Anthony Sutton. Britain entered a war against Germany because Hiller invaded Poland. At the end of the war, Britain agreed that Poland should be given to the monstrous Uncle Joe Stalin. A regime just as awful as the ‘evil Nazis’.

  • SAL the GAL

    There was recently a spate of ‘letters to the unknown soldier’, as part of these commemorations. After a hundred years, they were still full of jingoistic and mythologising euphemism. Yet another generation….

  • Kempe

    ” To commend its resistance is ridiculous. ”

    So what are you saying? That they had it coming? That the Germans (whose weren’t any less brutal in their own colonies) were right to invade a neutral country: murder, rape and enslave it’s population because Belgian colonies had suffered the same? A strange kind of morality.

    Prince William was making a speech in Belgium. What else would you expect him to talk about? the invasion was a key event of WW1 and can’t simply be ignored for the sake of being non-partisan. I don’t suppose many Belgians have even heard of Roger Casement, he had nothing to do with the invasion of their country so I can’t see any reason why he would warrant a mention.

  • CheebaCow


    “Britain agreed that Poland should be given to the monstrous Uncle Joe Stalin. A regime just as awful as the ‘evil Nazis’.”

    Did Britain have much choice? Russia vs the other Allies in 1946? Europe may not exist anymore if that happened. Also, there is no need to put quotes around ‘evil Nazis’, they were so evil they make comic book bad guys look good.

  • Jay

    Both those empires essentially capitalist the capitalist victor continuing its laissez fair economics with mechanisation to the wilful detriment of some social conditions.
    For the likes of Prince William how trapped he must feel without the freedoms which most of us enjoy. Which may explain his short sighted and ungracious views.

  • craig Post author


    Don’t be an ass. He could have simply commemorated the dead on all sides, without praising the fighting qualities of a particular side. It was in Belgium, but Germany and Austria were represented and his approach was offensive.


    Actually I don’t agree. Ascribing blame to a particular country is pointless. In my view Russia’s disproportionate attack on Austria was what turned a local Balkan crisis into a World War, but I don’t think blaming Russia is sensible either.

  • John Goss

    My father was born today and would have been 97 had he survived. The last relative of mine who died last month was 98. Nobody remembers the First World War. Like th Napoleonic wars it is over. We should be opposing wars today.

  • Robert

    Tonight we re all enjoined to sit in the dark for an hour to commemorate the bon mot of Sir Edward Grey about those lamps.

    It’s worth remembering that neither Grey nor his prime minister Asquith were exactly busting a gut for peace in the summer of 194. Grey, a keen fisherman, was away on holiday – gone fishing literally. He was not overjoyed to ave to return to work and although made the offer of a peace conference does not seem to have moved heaven and earth to stop the war. Given this, it seems strange that the man and his wisecrack are being bigged up, but then who wants to let the facts get in the way of a nice story.

  • Robert

    John Goss:

    Agree with your comment. I recall, growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, that WW1 was more of an annual remembrance formality. Now that all the old soldiers are dead and beyond help, we are beside ourselves with mawkish commemoration.

  • CheebaCow


    Woo! I just got my first personal response from you after the many years of visiting your blog. It pays to comment early 😉

    Again, I generally agree with you that WW1 was a failure of the system and how the political game was played back then. I also don’t think that any of the ‘great’ powers really understood what they were getting themselves into when they signed up for the war (for example cavalry with lances, the poor bastards). I just think that realistically, once the Germans had decided they were going to attack France and Russia, that there wasn’t any other alternatives but a total war across Europe, not unless everyone just rolled over and agreed that Germany would control pretty much all of mainland Europe. German plans weren’t just to nibble away at a few provinces and slightly enlarge their territory, their plan from the very beginning was to be the unrivaled power across Europe.

  • Tournesol

    I’m surprised you expected any different from William. He’s there to stick to script and, along with Kate, ‘connect’ to the younger generation of ‘subjects’. And nothing else.

  • Len Henderson

    On a slightly different tack – what sort of society do we inhabit which reportedly spends £50 millon to set up a media circus to commemorate the START of such carnage? Do the little stone monuments to be found in every village in the land not say enough? Are we being prepared to accept a 21st century rerun?

  • Abe Rene

    I see Prince Williams’ speech as promoting reconciliation all in all, not offense. He was commending people who defended their country against aggression. Good for him and them. Casement was guilty of treason and got hanged for it. That’s what one should expect in times of war. The Irish Free State, not too surprisingly, honoured him. In any case he repented of his sins and became a Catholic just before his death, so we may hope for his immortal soul.
    As for the Belgian colonials who oppressed their subjects, we may leave it to Heaven to decide what to do with their immortal souls.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    Just had to turn the radio off as Max Hastings started spouting the same old myth of British moral superiority. The bloke really believes we were the good guys. How can he be unaware that he only thinks that because he was born here?

  • passerby

    Russia’s disproportionate attack on Austria was what turned a local Balkan crisis into a World War, but I don’t think blaming Russia is sensible either.

    Truth be known that is the basis of it of all, although I believe Russians were counting on the progressive Austrians to be more accommodating, and unfortunately the reactionaries in the Austrian courts which would have put the Chinese courts to shame so far as duplicitous conduct were concerned, won the day, ergo the murderfest to kick off all the subsequent murderfests.

  • Abe Rene

    PS. I have just noted that of the 110 people just rescued from Libya by HMS Enterprise were two Irish and one German. A good example of the modern state of reconciliation!

  • Courtenay Barnett

    I abhor war.

    I had three cousins in the US when my Aunts migrated there. It was during the Vietnam war. Two cousins were in the army. At a family gathering I asked what were they there fighting for. Yet to receive a sensible answer.

    One went semi-bonkers and became a recluse in a remote part of North Carolina. The other was not so impacted and lives a normal life with his wife.

    War – what is it good for?

  • Langtonian

    John Goss:

    “Nobody remembers the First World War.”

    Sorry, John, but I’ll have to pick you up on that one. I used to live with my grandfather who served three years at the front in the Royal Scots in WW1. He was wounded three times and spent the last nine months of the war as a prisoner in Germany. He spoke often to me about the war and I remember it. I have two female friends, both in their early 70’s. The father of one served the whole of the war as an infantryman in France, the father of the other was in the navy and at the Battle of Jutland. They both remember the war.

    Having said that, most of the people you hear and read wittering on in the media appear to know or remember little or nothing about the war.

    I am with you, John, when you say we should be opposing wars today.

  • Abe Rene

    It could be argued that because the Belgian empire was so malevolent in its behaviour, Belgium’s invasion was an act of judgment by Providence. But I wonder whether even King Leopold started off as a humanitarian and became gradually corrupted by greed.

  • Johnstone


    I have just noted that of the 110 people just rescued from Libya by HMS Enterprise were two Irish and one German. A good example of the modern state of reconciliation!

    Well ask your self the question please ….just why are they needing to be rescued? And from yet another perspective does one really need to have lived in Germany for 25 years to know just how ridiculous your comment is?

  • Ben-American Fascist Flechette

    A look at History often helps us understand the MO. Why change the strategy when it works so well.

    “It seems that, in response to this new submarine threat, some alterations were made to Lusitania and her operation. She was ordered not to fly any flags in the War Zone, which was a contravention of the Cruiser Rules. Some messages were sent to the ship’s commander to help him decide how to best protect his ship against the new threat, and it also seems that her funnels were most likely painted a dark grey to help make her less visible to enemy submarines. Clearly, there was no hope of disguising her actual identity, since her profile was so well known, and no attempt was made to paint out the ship’s name at the prow.[50]”


    Isn’t it interesting that they went from NO flag to false flags?


    On the morning of 28 June 1914, Franz Ferdinand and his party proceeded by train from Ilidža Spa to Sarajevo.[16] Governor Oskar Potiorek met the party at Sarajevo station. Six automobiles were waiting. By mistake, three local police officers got into the first car with the chief officer of special security; the special security officers who were supposed to accompany their chief got left behind.[59] The second car carried the Mayor and the Chief of Police of Sarajevo. The third car in the motorcade was a Gräf & Stift 28/32 PS open sports car with its top folded down. Franz Ferdinand, Sophie, Governor Potiorek, and Lieutenant Colonel Count Franz von Harrach rode in this third car.[59] The motorcade’s first stop on the preannounced program was for a brief inspection of a military barracks. According to the program, at 10:00 a.m., the motorcade was to leave the barracks for the town hall by way of the Appel Quay.[60]

    Security arrangements within Sarajevo were limited. The local military commander, General Michael von Appel, proposed that troops line the intended route but was told that this would offend the loyal citizenry. Protection for the visiting party was accordingly left to the Sarajevo police, of whom only 60 were on duty on the day of the visit.[61]”

    Does this at all sound familiar? Does it ring any bells?

    Read on here….http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_Archduke_Franz_Ferdinand_of_Austria

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