Harry’s army career
Sir: I believe Jan Moir has misread the situation over Harry and Meghan (‘By royal disappointment’, 24 August). Shortly after Prince Harry left school he was filmed leading drill as a cadet. He was grinning ear to ear, clearly enjoying himself. Harry flourished in the army, which made his leaving it in 2015 such a surprise. In an interview at the time, he related the struggles of ‘trying to get the balance right’ between royal and military life.
Prince Harry’s army career was a tremendous boon to the monarchy, and I never understood why the royal family gave that asset up. All of the Duke of Sussex’s ‘woke’ entanglements have been a search for a new sense of purpose after his vocation was denied him. Even if the prince has ruffled some political feathers, he is clearly seeking to achieve Jan Moir’s ‘standards of public service’ and do good for the royal family and the British people. If anything, that should make him more deserving of our sympathy, understanding and encouragement.
Salford, Greater Manchester
Sir: Charles Moore is quite wrong in believing that we are not a civilised enough people to be trusted to leave the royals alone if they travel on public transport (The Spectator’s Notes, 24 August). Here in north Norfolk we are extremely civilised about it. The Queen comes on a regular scheduled public train from London to King’s Lynn every December. The Cambridges travel on the same line, with children and dog, plus just one policeman. The latter shop locally, as a family or individually, again with a security officer only. I was in a toy shop with them last year. The Duchess of Cornwall does her Christmas shopping in a small market town near my home every year. Nothing closes for them and there are no special arrangements. We let them get on with it, and for the most part we ignore them in the nicest possible way. It is the way they like it to be when they are off duty, and if the Sussexes travelled on that train line or came shopping here, the same would apply.
Little Thornage, Norfolk
A bookish king
Sir: To assert, as Charles Moore does, that no monarch since the 17th century has shown an inclination to read serious books is surely to traduce George III. Here was a king who read widely and deeply, and who assembled a great royal library in which other bibliophiles, ranging from Dr Johnson to John Adams, could do the same. We are fortunate that his otherwise dim son and successor had the wit to donate his father’s collection to the nation.
The case of Omar Khadr
Sir: Douglas Murray’s condemnation of the Canadian government’s compensation to the post-9/11 Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr leaves out some important details that help explain the decision (‘Who’ll be the next jihadi-jackpot winner?’, 24 August). Omar was only 15 when, following 9/11 and under the influence of his (admittedly odious) father, he was captured after a firefight in Afghanistan in which a US Army medic was killed and Omar shot twice in the back. Despite the fact that Omar was a minor, following his capture he was taken to Bagram and then Guantanamo Bay, where he was detained for years under its well-documented conditions of physical and psychological torture. Then, in 2010, he admitted throwing a grenade which killed the US soldier in return for being allowed to serve out his sentence in Canada. The then-Conservative Canadian government made many attempts to delay Omar’s legal return to Canada, but he was transferred in 2012 and released on bail in 2015. His $10 million compensation stems from an earlier Canadian Supreme Court ruling that Ottawa violated his constitutional rights in its dealings with the US during his years in Guantanamo.
Whatever one’s views of the Khadr family and the completely unrelated cases of the Isis jihadis being denied return to the UK, the fact is that Omar was under the influence of his militant father and was a minor when the incident occurred, and hardly deserving of the years of torture and denial of due process he endured after his arrest.
In defence of RS
Sir: My commiserations to Emmy Liddle, whose parents wouldn’t let her choose Religious Studies as a GCSE, even though she adored the subject (‘Anything can be blamed on a “condition”’, 24 August). Rod Liddle blames the subject for encouraging the ‘confected outrage’ often suffered by those who dare to disagree with prominent lobby groups. I couldn’t disagree more. In my experience, Religious Studies is the antidote to all kinds of illogical thinking — instead asking students to critically consider a wide range of beliefs, practices and ideas. It is a wonderful subject for encouraging the younger generation to think for themselves, and not just accept the shibboleths passed down to them.
I might add that one of my students this summer was awarded a top mark for making the case for the reintroduction of the death penalty. Surely this couldn’t happen if the subject is as timid as Rod Liddle suggests.
Fiona Barker (Religious Studies teacher)
Sir: Like Roger Alton, I have the highest regard for Marnus Labuschagne (Sport, 24 August). My only quibble is that as a devout Christian, he should not play on Sundays, as he did to maddening effect at Lord’s.
Stedham, West Sussex