Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Egregious Paranoia Department - HRH Prince Harry

If you've read this blog at all it might have occurred to you that I tend to worry as a form of innoculation. I figure as long as I'm worrying about something it'll never come to pass, and a couple of sleepless nights is the least I can do to prevent some dread inevitability or other from coming about. So why not turn this worry into something entertaining and thought-provoking for my readers? Well, my reader, anyway.

Some of you may recall that the Fleet Street media in the UK has often cast aspersions on the paternity of Prince Harry; not to sell papers, mind you, but because they just care so much. Notwithstanding that the Spencer line is loaded with redheads, and that both of her boys overwhelmingly favour their Spencer progenitors (which is why they hired her in the first place - duh!), there are those who have dared to insinuate that, while the Princess of Wales is undoubtedly his mother somehow the Prince of Wales is not Harry's father. That somehow James Hewitt -- the Princess' ne'er-do-well ex-boyfriend -- is Harry's real father.

FACT: The Princess never met James Hewitt until Harry was two or three years old. Since much of their affair is on the public record and easily checked (Diana was on the shortest possible leash from Buckingham Palace and Fleet Street until just before the affair started, etc.) this ought to be enough to put the rumours to rest. Alas, the public's memory is even shorter than its attention span.

FACT: Harry, like The Princess Royal, favours the Duke of Edinburgh's side of the family rather than The Queen's. Harry's resemblance to the Duke of Edinburgh at the same age is remarkable.

FACT: The Royal Family takes these matters very seriously, since marching bunches of hotties around in front of old palaces in archaic costumes and supporting charitable causes is about all they do when they're not micromanaging the bloodline. Just to be on the safe side they allegedly had his DNA tested (and while Diana was still alive too -- nice!).

Now it seems that, despite repeated assertions by Sandhurst Academy, the Ministry of Defence, and the Palace to the contrary, Prince Harry is to serve with the British army in Iraq in keeping with his new status as a Second Lieutenant.

If Prince Harry dies in Iraq there will be blood on the hands of everyone from 10 Downing Street to the Palace responsible for putting him into harm's way in the first place. Of course, this is just how conspiracy theories are born, a fact which all involved must know well enough, given how the chattering classes have mercilessly picked apart Diana's death for nearly a decade when the cause of Diana's death was that -- wait for it -- she wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

If I'm right (and the gods know I don't want to be) then I'll be hailed as a seer, and make a tidy living selling whatever else I can spew to Star magazine a la the late Jeane Dixon for the rest of my (hopefully) long life. If I'm wrong, and Prince Harry dies in his bed, peacefully, as a very old man, being known as an occasional crackpot and sensationalist (or what we in the business like to call "a Novelist") is the least I can do to ensure the safety of Diana's legacy.
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Footnote to History - Oliver Sipple

I'm still a little peeved that the obituary of President Ford I spent two hours working on last night seems to have vanished into cyberspace, like Susan Powter, never to be seen again.

However, in doing further reading I realise now that my obituary had a couple of mistakes in it (which I would have remedied the moment I found them). Which just goes to show that often when crappy things happen they happen for good reasons. It's just too bad they always seem to happen to me and don't happen more to Matt Drudge.

Again, I should just stick to what I do and let people who are good at such things do them.

Thanks to Towleroad, I can do just that. This is the first of what I'd like to make a regular feature here at the Pop Culture Institute. It concerns the day a gay man saved the President's life, so gather round children and let me relate the story...

"[President] Ford might have died on September 22, 1975, when an attempt was made on his life by Sara Jane Moore outside the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, less than three weeks after a similar assassination attempt was made by Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme in Sacramento.

"This time Ford's life was saved by Oliver Sipple, a former Marine who lunged at Moore, deflecting the intended bullet. Sipple was instantly commended but the incident inspired curiosity about the former soldier and it was revealed by Harvey Milk that he was a gay man, a fact that was not known by either his employer or his family. The resulting attention (Harvey Milk, who wanted to show that gay men were not all child molesters and perverts, anointed him a gay hero, inspiring a widely-syndicated write-up from noted columnist Herb Caen) freaked his mother enough to cause her to disown him. At the time Sipple pleaded with reporters: "I want you to know that my mother told me today she can't walk out of her front door because of the press stories...My sexual orientation has nothing to do with saving the President's life."

"Sipple battled the "outing" in court for the next nine years, a battle that was never won. It may have cost the man his sanity. Sipple was found in his San Francisco apartment in February 1989 next to a bottle of booze. Alcoholic and obese, he had been dead for two weeks.

"Gerald Ford did not attend the funeral and instead sent family and friends a letter of condolence. He was criticized by some who said that were Sipple heterosexual he would have been treated differently. Ford told journalist Deb Price in a 2001 interview: "As far as I was concerned, I had done the right thing and the matter was ended. I didn't learn until sometime later — I can't remember when — he was gay. I don't know where anyone got the crazy idea I was prejudiced and wanted to exclude gays."

Kinda makes you think. Or, you know, not. Hey, at least it has nothing to do with Paris Hilton.

These events are dealt with in greater depth in Randy Shilts' great book "The Mayor of Castro Street". I suggest you hurry on down to your local gay bookstore and buy or order this amazing book.
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