I have posted before on censorship, but rarely have we seen a more obnoxious attempt at censorship than that displayed by the Press Complaints Commission in their blanket ‘instruction’ to all the editors of British newspapers; that they should refrain from publishing any picture of Prince Harry which featured him nude in a Las Vegas hotel room with an equally-naked young woman.
The whole idea of self-regulation of the Press, itself a slightly paranoid idea, stems from the perceived belief that ‘they’, that is the ‘Establishment’, knows what is best for the mob, knows what we should be allowed to read and knows, instinctively; how much, or indeed how little should be allowed onto the headlines and newsprint of our national newspapers.
In 1936, a Scots journalist, bent upon a routine Royal Story about a hospital opening ceremony, discovered that King Edward VIII, previously set to open a grand new infirmary at Forrester Hill, but then suddenly deemed to be ‘too busy’; was actually at an Aberdeen railway station meeting his very good friend, the twice-divorced Wallis Simpson. The journalist, Alex Dexter, together with the Aberdeen station master, met and greeted Mrs. Simpson before she was ushered out of the station. Parked at the entrance was a large black Humber saloon, and from the rear of this vehicle stepped the King, who greeted Mrs. Simpson, along with her two companions, and then left the station at speed with the divorcée and her friends in the car. This unknown Scot wrote his story, contacted his editor, and persuaded him that his ‘scoop’ was worthy of an airing in print, and after the news broke across the British Isles that their King, supposedly ‘too busy’ to open a new infirmary, was actually meeting his twice-divorced lover; the blocks were torn away from the newspapers conspiracy of silence about the ‘playboy King’, and the British public finally learned that their King was planning to marry a divorcée. Very soon afterwards, Prime Minister Baldwin commented upon the strange liaison, as well as the Archbishop of Canterbury, well-known as one who disliked the louche and easy-going image of the new King. The British public also learned that news of this liaison had been available for months on all American and European publications.
The Abdication, and the ensuing Coronation of a good man, King George VI, did much to cement and steady the Government and the Nation, but it should never, ever be forgotten that we very nearly had a man on the British Throne who liked Hitler and all his pomp and glory, a man who wished to rule as ‘He would wish to rule’ and ignore all convention of the times. Let us also not forget that the British Establishment, in that Year of Our Lord 1936, did not have the Internet to deal with, or a rambunctious set of Tabloid newspapers who hold reverence for very few things; but instead a complaisant bunch of newspaper editors who knew, instinctively, what we should, and of course should not; be allowed to know or see!