WHILE the world focuses its unwavering gaze on the bear-woods-toilet-facilities elements of Prince Harry’s latest media interview – Soldier kills enemy, shocker! Man whose mum died in paparazzi chase still feels frosty toward media, Exclusive! – may I divert your attention to a tiny detail which is far more telling, and arguably more damning, of our royal hero?
It is the badge on his helmet which reads: “Go Ugly Early.”
That is the unofficial motto of 662 Squadron. On one level, it refers to their fearsome Apache helicopters, which are nicknamed “Uglies”.
The general gist being: If you find yourself in a sticky situation with the enemy, call for 662’s help sooner rather than later and we’ll sort it out.
It is a macho and slightly boastful sentiment, but totally reasonable in the context.
However, on another level immediately obvious to anyone who speaks even basic Lad, “Go Ugly Early” is also a reference to a strategy deployed on the dancefloor rather than the battlefield.
For the unenlightened, let me explain. When a group of young bucks go for a night on the town, they might encourage one another, half-jokingly (but only half), to “avoid disappointment, go ugly early”.
In other words, if you want to have sex tonight, focus your romantic attentions on plainer women who, by virtue of their lower sense of self-esteem and assumed lack of suitors, will be more likely to acquiesce, in the naive belief you might actually like them.
By deploying this strategy early, you will avoid the unappealing prospect of a closing time rush on the plain girls, when every other unsuccessful Romeo chooses to lower their standards.
In the laddish circles I thankfully never fitted into as a younger man, this strategy was also termed “bagging a pig”. Charming, eh?
How reassuring to know that, while the government scrambles to scrap the rank sexism of primogeniture in Royal inheritance, the third-in-line to the throne appears to endorse this Neanderthal culture.
As it happens, I have no problem with Harry killing Taliban insurgents. On the contrary, I am grateful for his bravery in the face of a tenacious and fearsome enemy.
However, would it not be even braver for a man of his profile to do the decent thing and refuse to wear that revolting badge?
Am I being a humourless prig about this? Probably. But I am also being the father of a baby girl who, no matter how beautiful she is to me, may one day find herself in the 95% of women deemed “ugly” by the likes of Harry and his braying pals.
And while he may come from a family in which children are ranked, I’d like to live in a world when my daughter is never anyone’s second best.