The question of how long after getting engaged to Meghan Markle it would be before Prince Harry did something insanely stupid has been answered.
This weekend, less than two weeks after the global media were rejoicing on his behalf, Prince Harry flew by private jet to Germany where he participated in a hunting party with a German prince nicknamed ‘The Boar Terminator,” who once uploaded a video that shows him in a snowy forest killing half a dozen bolting wild boars in rapid succession.
Hunting enthusiasts will be quick to point out that wild boar are an extremely unwelcome pest in central Europe, breeding quickly and destroying vast quantities of crops annually.
That may be true, and indeed many conservationists around the world now argue that trophy hunting and game shooting are, ironic as it may seem, effective ways to promote biodiversity and provide a financial incentive to locals to protect habitats.
A similar argument is used by proponents of fox hunting, and pheasant and grouse shooting, in the U.K.
Much to the dismay of those who find killing animals for fun abhorrent, the uncomfortable truth is that these activists are correct. But the subtleties of the argument are lost on the general public.
They merely see a very privileged man killing dumb animals for fun.
And anything that gives the media the opportunity to run, once again, the awful 2004 photograph of Harry perched atop a water buffalo he has just shot dead during a hunt in Argentina should be avoided.
The animal was killed lawfully. But so was Cecil the Lion.
It is particularly extraordinary that less than two weeks after he announced his engagement to a woman who has spoken out frequently about cruelty to animals and made much of her two adopted rescue dogs, that Harry should have allowed himself to be portrayed in such a fashion.
Germany’s biggest newspaper, Bild am Sonntag, reported that Harry jetted into the country on a private Gulfstream on Friday before going to the hunting party near Berlin.
Harry was with a taxpayer-funded security detail when he arrived at Berlin’s Schoenefeld Airport before being driven to Oettingen Castle in Bavaria, where he was one of 60 guests for the Friday afternoon hunt, before flying home on Saturday afternoon.
That Harry went to the shoot this year is made all the more remarkable by the outcry that greeted his participation in it in previous years. It shows not only the arrogance of the young royals when it comes to their lifestyles, but also the naivety of hopes that Meghan’s influence might be able to deter Harry away from bloodthirsty activities.
Harry must recognize (even if it is not logical) the perceived hypocrisy between his public stance as conservationist and his private enjoyment of slaughtering birds by the hundred—and that this perception hinders his conservationist cause.
There is no doubt that Harry is genuinely passionate about conservation.
But his only real use in that fight is as a symbol. And symbols need to be uncomplicated.
Harry and William demonstrate their arrogance when they take continue to take pleasure in killing animals shooting while simultaneously campaigning against the poaching of protected species such as rhinos and elephants.
If he really wants to be taken seriously as an advocate for the animal kingdom, it is time to put down his guns.