According to this week's Private Eye, the Iranian Hostage Crisis came about because of – a failed publicity stunt. The Navy felt that it wasn't getting enough of the military limelight. So it invited a BBC film crew to cover heroic Leading Seaman Turney and her team.
Commodore Nick Lambert, who was in charge of the publicity coup – errm, excuse me, military operation – felt that two small inflatables doing a dangerous job on their own would look much better on the telly if they weren't visibly getting cover by helicopters or more substantial militiary vessels. So he ordered the cover to be off.
The Iranians, apparently, agreed with Commodore Lambert's artistic judgement when they saw the pictures on Channel Five news. Which is why, at that point, they decided to appropriate the striking images for themselves.
The lesson: The Iranian hostage crisis could have been avoided if only Prince Harry had chosen the Navy, instead of the Army, as his day job. With all the talk about Harry in Iraq, the Army, after all, doesn't suffer from a lack of publicity, does it?
The crisis could also, of course, have been avoided if the UK political and military elite hadn't followed Tony Blair's obsession with media spin quite so willingly. Though that might not have been so great, either. After all, if Tony thought that his only lasting legacy was being whittled away, he might try to cling on for even longer. And we've just seen where attempts to hug the limelight can land you...