The prince's secret

Monday, March 10, 2008

Last week, the Prince Harry story broke worldwide. And, because of the fascination with all things royal, the story was widely read.

For those who may not have heard, the prince, third in line to the throne after his father and older brother, was serving with British forces in Afghanistan. Apparently, an Australian magazine reported the story weeks before. But when the Drudge Report picked up the story, it became international fodder. Suddenly everyone knew where the prince was and what he was doing. Hours later, Harry came back home due to security and safety fears.

Since then, all parties have come under fire. Many criticized the original source of the story, an Australian magazine, for not thinking about the ramifications of the story. Others blasted the Drudge Report for exposing Harry further. Some have criticized a large number of media outlets for agreeing to embargo the story in the first place. After all, if so many people knew about Harry's whereabouts, isn't it reasonable to believe the enemy did too? And others believe the royal family let the news leak in order to force Harry to come home from combat.

This episode is a matter of responsibility. While his intentions appear pure and noble, Prince Harry must have realized that his involvement in conflict would not only put him at high risk, but his comrades as well. And he and the military must have known that keeping a secret of this magnitude would be a near-impossible task.

Likewise, the media must assume responsibility. The media have certain rights to report the news. But just because the media can doesn't mean the media always should. This was a case where reporting the story put lives at risk. However, we also question whether it was necessary to send a high-profile individual into combat in the first place.

This was a situation destined to unravel from the beginning. Prince Harry was fortunate he was able to serve as long as he did without harm.

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