Once upon a time, brother would happily have murdered brother to wear the crown. Families were ripped asunder in pursuit of it, pretenders to the throne routinely met grisly ends, and even marrying into the proximity of royalty could be lethal.
How puzzled Prince Harry s ancestors would be, then, by the interview he has just given in America explaining that nobody really wants to be king any more. The royals are, he explained, only still in business now for the greater good of the people , not because they actually enjoy the gig. Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time, he told the US edition of Newsweek. Like celebrities who tire of fame, or titled families moaning about the cost of maintaining the ancestral pile, princes gloomy about one day having to be king do not exactly invite instant sympathy. After all, if the burden of all that unearned wealth and privilege is so terrible then they could always give it up. Renounce the throne, hand back the keys to Kensington Palace, and see if the life of a commoner forced to earn your own living but free to wander down the street on a sunny day without trailing clouds of close protection officers and paparazzi really is as appealing from the inside as it must sometimes look. Hell, why not go the whole hog and come out for an elected president instead of a monarchy? Let the cursed burden fall to someone who actively wants it although, as ever, the glaring flaw in this argument is imagining the sort of person who might want it. (President Blair? President Richard Branson? God help us, President Farage?)
But constitutional implications aside, there is a human story here that will be recognisable to many distinctly un-regal families, and that s the creeping renunciation of what previous generations have unquestioningly assumed work should be. William and Harry are certainly not alone among millennials in not wanting to slog their guts out as their parents did, and choosing to allow more space for relationships and families. And instead of dismissing them as spoilt brats, older generations might usefully reflect on what it could possibly be about their burnt-out, grumpy, professionally insecure parents that they don t wish to emulate.
It s true that the vast majority of young people can t afford to be so picky. Thousands would be grateful for a job full stop, let alone a crown; others are busy stringing together several precarious half-livings to make the rent, and the great whoosh of twentysomething rage unleashed at the last election is testament to how very far from professionally secure they feel. But it s precisely that insecurity and anxiety, rather than laziness, that seems to be increasingly shaping attitudes to work. If the payoff for doing well at school and slogging through a good degree is a pile of debt, a starter job that could have been done by a school leaver and zero chance of ever having a mortgage, then why pour every ounce of energy into work that seems to offer so little back? Exposure does have consequences; it changes the nature of any job, and who is likely to be attracted to it
Even among those lucky enough to be on relatively secure career paths, something is clearly changing.
Only a third of trainee GPs, according to a survey carried out recently for the King s Fund, plan to be working full-time even straight after qualifying. They ve seen the stress older doctors are working under, taking life or death decisions, back to back, all day and then catching up with paperwork late into the night, and they re afraid of burning out if they do the same. Further up the career ladder, the NHS is struggling in some parts of the country to find hospital chief executives because of the pressure that comes with the top job; the knowledge that you ll be held very publicly accountable if anything goes wrong, in a funding climate where things may be increasingly likely to go wrong. Stay one rung below the top, and at least you ll sleep at nights. Governors looking to recruit headteachers, especially in challenging neighbourhoods, report similar problems in getting junior teachers to step up. Why take the professional risk of trying to turn schools with deeply entrenched problems around, when it will be your head on the block if Ofsted deems you to have failed? All this may be horrifying to older doctors and headteachers, driven by a strong sense of public service and self-sacrifice and a desire to put something back. But younger professionals who want to work like this aren t necessarily shirking their duty to those they serve, so much as interpreting that duty differently; wanting to be rested enough to take good decisions rather than lurching into sleep-deprived mistakes for which they could find themselves in court. It s failure they may fear, more than hard work.
Obviously, the job the young royals are so gloomily contemplating a bit of light ribbon-cutting, plaque-unveiling and Christmas message-filming, rather than anything life or death is infinitely less demanding by comparison. But again it s the intense public scrutiny to which the princes seem to object, rather than the workload; the daily intrusion into their private lives that is the price now paid for privilege, but which didn t apply in the same way to a previous generation of royal babies. And before dismissing that as whingeing, it s worth remembering that their mother blamed anxiety induced by marrying into the spotlight for fuelling her bulimia, that she died in a car crash while being chased by paparazzi, and that as bereaved children they were expected to walk behind her coffin under the open gaze of millions of strangers. It would be more alarming in the circumstances if William hadn t chosen to hide his children away in rural Norfolk, if Harry hadn t grown up with deeply conflicting feelings about the family business.
There s no going back to a time before public servants were held publicly accountable for their mistakes, any more than it is possible for the royals to retreat to an era when all we expected them to do was smile and wave. But exposure does have consequences; it changes the nature of any job, and who is likely to be attracted to it. Princes William and Harry have a perfect right to grapple with these questions, publicly as well as privately. Even if they would be wise to expect precious little sympathy for doing so.
- ^ interview (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ unleashed at the last election (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ survey carried out recently for the King s Fund (www.kingsfund.org.uk)
- ^ to recruit headteachers (www.nfer.ac.uk)
- ^ intense public scrutiny (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ daily intrusion (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ expected to walk behind her coffin under the open gaze of millions of strangers (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ hide his children away in rural Norfolk (www.theguardian.com)
The warming Atlantic Ocean has raised the risk of another Hurricane Sandy. And still, trillions of dollars of real estate and infrastructure near the shores of New York City and northern New Jersey remain vulnerable to devastation. A storm-surge barrier similar to those in Louisiana and parts of Europe might protect the area, but politicians have questioned its $30 billion cost, effectiveness and environmental impact. A group of scientists, planners and property owners is urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to accelerate its study of the project. It may take another hurricane to speed up the process.
The danger is increasing as the sea level rises, said Malcolm Bowman, an oceanographer at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, who is among the group. It won t take a monster storm like Sandy to devastate the region.
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Bowman warned of a catastrophic storm as far back as 2005, in a New York Times Op-Ed article. Seven years later, Sandy struck the region, flooding airports and tunnels and ravaging shore communities from Atlantic City, New Jersey, to Bridgeport, Connecticut. It caused $68.9 billion in damage, making it the second-costliest storm in U.S. history after Katrina, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Bowman s group is pushing for an evaluation of a 5-mile retractable storm-surge barrier at the mouth of New York Harbor from the Rockaways to New Jersey s Sandy Hook. That, and another smaller structure at the western edge of Long Island Sound, could protect about 800 miles of shoreline from Port Elizabeth, New Jersey, to the Bronx, Bowman says. As Bowman describes it, before a major storm, barriers would rise from the seabed or close in a gate-like structure to deflect the force of a wind-blown surge, as occurred with Sandy.
You have to allow for marine traffic and the daily flow of the tides to flush out the harbor, Bowman said, But when a storm is forecast with enough wind at high tide to create a surge, you close the gates or raise it from the seabed so water that wants to flow into the harbor can t.
Weeks after Sandy, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his administration planned to talk with city and federal officials about the possibility of installing storm-surge barriers. Corps engineers, in discussions with New York and New Jersey since last August, are still studying what protection strategies merit further study.
At this point, it is premature to say whether broad-scale solutions such as that advocated by this group, or other more regional or localized potential solutions will fare best, said Corps spokesman Hector Mosley.
In the meantime, the state has moved ahead with a $616 million plan for Staten Island that includes a boardwalk promenade that would double as a storm-surge bulwark. The Corps has that project scheduled for completion in 2022, paid mostly by the federal government. Billions more in federal, state and city funds are being spent along shore areas, enhancing dunes and berms on beaches, cultivating wetlands, building walls and awarding subsidies for waterproofing homes and office buildings. City officials also envision a mostly-U.S. funded $816 million horseshoe-shaped elevated park wrapped along the southern half of Manhattan, dubbed The Big U, to keep out the Hudson and East Rivers. Such localized approaches may work as well or better than a mega-project, said Jainey Bavishi, Mayor Bill de Blasio s director of the Office of Recovery and Resiliency. Her concerns about a storm barrier include cost and construction time; possible environmental impact; and whether it would leave densely populated areas of Long Island and New Jersey vulnerable, and perhaps even more exposed to flooding from displaced water.
A harbor barrier is not the silver bullet, Bavishi said.
Many of these issues have been solved with barriers that protect low-lying populations around the world, said Robert Yaro, former president of New York s Regional Plan Association. Its retractable feature would allow for marine traffic and tidal flow, minimizing impact to sea life and water quality, he said. The technology holds the promise of protecting the region for catastrophic floods for the next 150 years, Yaro said.
The Dutch have used this engineering for decades and barriers currently protect New Orleans, Stamford, Providence, London and St. Petersburg, Russia, Yaro said. We in New York are far behind and among the cities on Earth we have the most to lose. Yaro and Bowman were among several advocates promoting the idea last month at an all-day conference in lower Manhattan attended by 250 municipal bond investors, real estate developers, business owners, insurance companies, and planners.
They heard Andrew Kopplin, former director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, describe how in New Orleans after Katrina, a bipartisan coalition of elected officials and business leaders persuaded Congress to approve a $14.5 billion system of levees and a storm-surge barrier. The barrier, a 1.8-mile array of gates, protected the city from Hurricane Isaac s landfall in 2012, said Kopplin, now president and chief executive officer of the Greater New Orleans Foundation, a non-profit charitable civic group.
It was simply a matter of political will, he said. Officials in the Cuomo and de Blasio administrations say they await the Corps findings.
We clearly want to see the New York Harbor barrier studied, said James Tierney, Cuomo s deputy environmental commissioner for water resources. The process requires a full-blown feasibility study. The Army Corps process is what we have to live with.
Marco Pasanella, 54, who lives above his gourmet wine shop on lower Manhattan s South Street that got flooded when Sandy hit, says the pace and scope of government response has been disappointing. He s says he s seen no measures that would protect his neighborhood if another storm hit. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted as many as 17 tropical storms, about five more than average, may hit the Atlantic coast this year.
The decisions have Balkanized the neighborhoods with a piecemeal approach, just a series of uneven, irregular blockades that will not stop the water from finding its way ashore, Pasanella said. Across Manhattan at Chelsea Piers, a recreational facility situated over the Hudson, Michael Braito, the property s chief engineer, said neighborhood protections won t be enough to stop storm-surge water coursing through his building.
These piecemeal fixes buy little more than peace of mind, Braito said. It s like a boat with 100 holes and we ve patched half of them and we re going to sink. They need to think bigger.
For Immediate Release Monday 19 June 2017
Today is the final opportunity to register for FOOD INTEGRITY 2017, the conference in Auckland at the end of the month exploring how to keep New Zealand s food exports safe and maximise brand profits. Dr Jennifer van de Ligt, from the Food Protection & Defense Institute, a US Department of Homeland Security Centre of Excellence, William Marler, Managing Partner of Washington s Marler Clark and specialist food borne illness litigator and Li Wei, Chair of China s Goke Agricultural Machinery and Yimu Technology and an Executive Director of the China Milk Association are among a stellar line-up of international food protection experts who will address the two-day conference. Organiser Dr Helen Darling says the conference is an opportunity for New Zealand food exporters to gain an understanding of the measures other countries are taking to protect their food chains and make sure that their systems operate in a complementary manner.
The 2017 Food Integrity Conference is presented in association with AJ Park, one of Australasia s leading intellectual property law firms. Expert IP lawyer, Anton Gibson of AJ Park will speak at the conference about the evolution of food, innovation and IP. Food Integrity 2017 Is being followed by a one day Professional Intentional Food Adulteration Course. The course, run by Food Protection & Defense Institute, a United States of America Homeland Security Centre of Excellence, will help producers develop strategies to guard against acts intended to ruin brand reputation. WHAT 2017 Food Integrity Conference
WHEN Wednesday 28 and Thursday 29 June 2017, Crown Plaza, Auckland
PRICE $700 for Registration
$2,100 Intentional Adulteration Course
$2,700 Conference and Intentional Adulteration Course