Prepare for maximum silliness. The UK’s EU in, out, shake it all about referendum campaign hasn’t even started yet, and already the domestic media is in overdrive. The latest victim of incipient referendum madness is Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge and trainee king. The young man was good enough to make a speech at the Foreign Office in London and his remarks have already been misinterpreted in some quarters as an endorsement of the Remain campaign, which would be a massive story if true. But he didn’t back either side. In fact, his words were clearly designed to say the bland, diplomatic equivalent of “it’s a game of two halves” or, as we say in Scotland “the nights are fair drawin’ in”.
Here is what Prince William said:
“For centuries, Britain has been an outward looking nation. Hemmed in by sea, we have always sought to explore what is beyond the horizon. That sense of mission and curiosity is something that I know continues to drive our economy, our cultural and educational exports and our Armed Forces and Diplomatic Service. And wherever we go, we have a long and proud tradition of seeking out allies and partners. In an increasingly turbulent world, our ability to unite in common action with other nations is essential. It is the bedrock of our security and prosperity and is central to your work. Right now, the big questions with which you wrestle – in the UN, NATO, the Middle East and elsewhere – are predicated on your commitment to working in partnership with others.”
Look, he doesn’t even mention the EU; he avoids it because his staff obviously realise that Royals should not get involved in elections and referenda. He talks about being outward looking but working in partnership with allies. Sure, and Brexiteers believe that just as much as those who are convinced Britain should stay in. The outers simply take a different view of what our relationship with those allies, in Europe at least, should be.
So, if you are in Britain today and you hear someone say, on the television news or in the pub, that Prince William has come out one way or the other on the EU referendum, just say no, no he hasn’t.