How a social website for the super-rich could make Prince Harry's Vegas affair look like small beer

How a social website for the super-rich could make Prince Harry's Vegas affair look like small beer - With news emerging that there may have been video footage taken of Harry’s naked frolics – and that he has been active on Facebook under the pseudonym Spike Wells – this story may have some more unexpected twists. But if it does disappear into the stuff of embarrassing memory, fear not: it doesn’t take a Nostradamus to foresee a string of highly entertaining scandals heading our way, courtesy of a Swedish count by the name of Erik Wachtmeister.

It all started some years ago, when the Count was hunting boar on the Bismarck clan’s estate in Schleswig-Holstein, northern Germany. In the moments of quietude between having “50 animals coming at you”, he recalls, he was struck by a “good idea”: an invitation-only social network, catering for millionaires and the ennobled.
Prince Harry might be ill advised to join

The logic went like this. As a self-proclaimed member of the international jet set, Wachtmeister found himself “running into the same people who all know each other” on the well-worn glitterati circuit. Rather than have to share Facebook with hoi polloi, it made sense – to him, at least – to mirror this milieu online, with an exclusive social-network-site-cum-private–members’-club. Fast forward to the present day: has just been launched, and already boasts more than 25,000 users. According to Wachtmeister, this number includes billionaires and members of various royal families.

Now, here’s a simple equation. Take Prince Harry – or Spike Wells – and his circle, who, as Celia Walden attests, are possessed by a “semi-scatological humour” in which the ability to take off one’s clothes is seen as a comic asset, like “walking around with a whoopee cushion permanently at your disposal”. Add Aidan Burley, the Conservative MP who, like the Prince in his younger days, has a penchant for Nazi fancy-dress parties. Add the members of the Bullingdon Club, and the super-injunction clique of Zac Goldsmith et al, as well as a small army of major and minor celebrities. Multiply by, an exclusive social network which offers the illusion of privacy. Divide by Wikileaks and the community of international computer hackers. Equals?

From a political point of view, all of this points to a central point of friction within the modern Tory party. On the one hand, Conservatism offers the electorate a fundamentally meritocratic ideology, one which allows a grocer’s daughter from Grantham to take the highest office in the land, and which, as the welfare reform agenda and bonfire of red tape attests, is alive and kicking today. On the other, Tories are seen as synonymous with inherited aristocratic privilege, which goes against the grain of that meritocracy.

With self-made men such as William Hague and Ken Clarke on one side, and emblems of inherited wealth such as David Cameron and Zac Goldsmith on the other, the Tory brand will always be conflicted. If takes off in Britain, it may have the potential to highlight the excesses of high-Tory misbehaviour above the successes of its grassroots; this may prove a game changer when the country goes to the polls in 2015.

And butlers all across the land say in unison, “is it really wise to join, sir?” ( )

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