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The Unconscious Bias

“Perhaps she’d be less dangerous if she was happy?"

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Camilla, Queen Consort of the United Kingdom

Prince Harry has accused his stepmother, Camilla, Queen Consort of the United Kingdom, of leaking private conversations to the media to burnish her own reputation as he promotes a new book that lays bare his story of life behind palace walls.

In interviews broadcast this week, Harry accused her of “getting into bed with the devil” to gain favorable tabloid coverage, singling out Camilla’s efforts to rehabilitate her image with the British people after her longtime affair with his father, King Charles III.

"This all started with them briefing, daily, against my wife with lies to the point I had to run away from my country," Prince Harry said, in an interview with CBS “60 Minutes” while promoting his forthcoming memoir, "Spare."

“That made her dangerous because of the connections that she was forging within the British press. There was an open willingness on both sides to trade information, and there was gonna be people or bodies left in the street.”

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Commonwealth Day, 2020

While he insists his father, the king, and his queen of predominantly black overseas territories aren’t racist, he emphatically accuses them both of having an “unconscious bias.”

Natural Justice

A bias is an assumption about someone or something — carbs are bad, exercise is good — that are based on generalizations rather than full and complete knowledge. A syllogism takes two positions and arrives at a conclusion, logically or not.

Carbohydrates produce sugar.
Sugar causes diabetes.
Therefore, carbohydrates cause diabetes.

These cognitive shortcuts are a precursor to discrimination and bias. Though true, they’re not the complete truth, and “there is nothing more dangerous,” FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover once wrote, “than partial information.”

So Natural Justice, in English law, has rules against bias (nemo iudex in causa sua) and the right to a fair hearing (audi alteram partem). While the term natural justice is a philosophical concept, it’s a precursor to the legal concept of fairness.

Referred to as the "duty to act fairly,” bias can usurp a fair and impartial legal system. In fact, tests to identify bias within the courts, i.e., "reasonable suspicion of bias” and the "real likelihood of bias” are designed to usurp bias an enable fairness, a natural justice. Talking points include:

Actual Bias occurs when we’re prejudiced in favor of or against a party; Imputed bias occurs when we have a pecuniary or proprietary interest in the outcome of the decision, and Apparent bias occurs when we’re neither party to the matter, nor have any interest in its outcome, but our conduct or behavior gives rise to a suspicion that we’re not impartial.

The very basis of these rules is designed to “maintain public confidence in the legal system and natural justice,” but rather than rely on the oversight of a judiciary, or on queues for social conduct from a legislature, can or should common decency be applied to our personal civics?

Natural Law

Unlike the United States, English law does not permit judicial review of primary legislation (laws passed by Parliament), and, if applied to individuals, explains why a personal constitution or code of conduct really matters.

First appearing in the pre-Socratics, it was Aristotle who first documented the concept of natural law in ancient Greek philosophy, and later Cicero who influenced St. Paul’s epistles. Later elaborated upon by St. Thomas Aquinas, a theologian of the Catholic Church, natural law referred to “a body of unchanging moral principles regarded as a basis for all human conduct.” It is the ellipse of the Magna Carta and U.S. Constitution, and at its core is a city commensurate with nature.

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Prince Harry Santa Barbara California 2022

Nature, however, abhors a void, and to every action there’s an equal but opposite reaction. "Spare" explores Harry’s grief over his mother’s death in 1997, and his resentment over a woman he begged his father not to marry.

The reigning Queen Consort of the United Kingdom was, in law, the adulterous third party and causal factor in the acrimonious breakdown of the Prince and Princess of Wales’ marriage, Harry’s parents.

“I had complex feelings about gaining a stepparent who, I believed, had recently sacrificed me on her personal PR altar.” Still, he says he wants his father to be happy. “In a funny way, I even wanted Camilla to be happy. Maybe she’d be less dangerous if she was happy?”

American Riviera

A self-described “freedom flight” saw the couple flee the UK press via Canada to commercial opportunities in the West. Retiring their titles and patronages, they’ve officially embarked on the ‘private life’ their mother, the Princess of Wales always dreamed of.

At the core of the social contract and divine right of kings lies a question: What personal freedoms do we surrender to the state in exchange for protection? For this Prince of England, that answer now lies for better or worse with the State of California.

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