Dear William and Kate
It’s getting a bit disturbing, isn’t it? The phalanx of paparazzi staking out the hospital. The Australian prank caller. The fictional royal baby tweeting on behalf of a blastocyte.
I have an admission to make. I can’t stop myself watching it unfold. It’s like watching a morbid accident in slow-motion. In my country, it’s a bloodier drama. Our rhinos are getting murdered. Their disfigured heads, their bleeding carcasses hit the front pages daily, but we don’t seem to be able to do anything to stop it.
And it may seem slightly mad, but I’m starting to see you as odd little English rhinos. Your privacy is held ransom by every news editor, every magazine and tabloid, every drone with a phone. They hounded Diana, and now they are chasing you.
The rhino horns will get ground up into a useless powder, allegedly for medicinal use, but really for the much darker exercising of primitive superstitions: Take this to make yourself more real, more powerful, more immune, more attractive. What is the equivalent primeval power of the endless pictures, the fashion soundbites, every turn of Kate’s lovely head and William’s unfaltering and patient smile? What is the insatiable need that drives the neverending hunt for the next fix of royal powder?
Whatever it is, it’s another delusion, to be sure. The delusion if we look closely enough, we might taste what it’s like to have a life as impossibly easy or luxurious, or beautiful or glamorous, or privileged, as yours appears to be. We suspect it tastes a little tiresome at times, a little unreal, a little exhausting, and sometimes a little lonely. So we look even more closely, for clues of that humanity. Will you ever snap at the press? Will you ever bite back?
I guess not. Unlike the rhinos, you have sanctuaries where you can hide and revive. And those who want to shoot you aren’t allowed to carve you up into trophies. That barbarism is reserved for animals, sadly.
Today a rhino poacher turned himself over to the police in my country. If the media are to be believed, he’ll be locked away for 40 years. For carving a horn off a vulnerable, endangered creature. Or: for catering for the whims of some some deluded Chinese consumers who believe that rhino horn will fix them in some way, make them better.
I have an appeal to you, my odd little overseas fascination. It seems to me you might have first hand experience of how it feels to be hunted, unfairly, in a potentially life threatening way. It also seems to me that you have enormous power to raise awareness. So here it is. An offer and an appeal. Come to South Africa. We’ll give you privacy in exchange for exposing the international media to the insanity of our rhino poaching problem. The paparazzi in South Africa are quite, quite amateur in comparison to those of the first world. Honestly, we leave celebrities alone here. In most of our cities, if you just dress a little dull and don’t make a fuss, you’re unlikely to be noticed, let alone hounded. So, when the nausea has settled, bring yourselves out to South Africa. And start shining a spotlight on the lunacy of the rhino poachers.
I won’t tweet a soul.