This week, Prince William and Kate visited Ireland and have a pint. Yet again, a grim, toxic message that the highlight of our Irish culture is a pint of Guinness produced by a global multinational. Priceless advertising publicity for a product that kills three people every day.
These trips are planned in meticulous detail, every little detail is pored over and analysed in minute detail. Who will they meet? How long will they stay? Who will greet them when they get out of the car? Where are the likely problems? These trips don’t just happen.
So the fact that no in Government thought to ask why a visit to a brewery was planned is disappointing. Not one official or senior manager in the entire Government thought to say,
“Hang on, we have a crisis in our hospitals with 760 people on trolley beds. Yet 1,500 hospital beds are occupied very night by people harmed by alcohol. So why are we promoting alcohol when it does so much damage to our economy and society?”
Like many Irish people of my age, I’m not a fan of the Royals. But since the younger royals set up their Royal Foundation to tackle the stigma of mental health, I’ve been an admirer. Prince William’s brother Prince Harry has even spoken about his own mental health struggles and how he used alcohol as a means of coping with the pain of losing his Mother. So they know on a deeply personal level the links between alcohol harm and mental health.
So did they or none of their advisers not see the dangers of visiting a brewery to have a pint? That they were sending a message that alcohol is a safe activity? Despite Alcohol Action Ireland and many other experts saying there is no safe level of drinking.
Have a pint
Or were they advised, those Paddies would get very upset if they did not visit a brewery? Either way, the Royals undermined their own promotion of mental health when they and the advisers agreed to have a pint, which they know would send photos around the world.
Does it matter?
We saw how crowds welcomed the Royals. The actions of the Royals visiting a brewery to have a pint sends a hugely important message. It sends a message that alcohol is just another ordinary product. If the Royals are drinking it, it must be ok for me to drink it. It normalises alcohol and that no visit to Ireland is complete without going to the brewery to have a pint. So yes it does matter.
Brainwashing at the highest level
So as we try to manage our drinking, it is vitally important to really notice and reject these toxic messages that alcohol is a safe product, which all normal drink. Try not to absorb these misleading messages. Look at alternatives messages about alcohol. For example, Foil Arms and Hog’s really funny fantastic video . Do not be brainwashed