The News of the World video that shows Prince Harry using the words “Paki” and “raghead” to describe Army colleagues has sparked such a media storm over the past few days. News outlets from all over the world have taken up the story, and evoked memories of Prince Philip’s past gaffes. Recently, the furor has grown to involve Prince Charles in a new instance of royal name-calling.
The video in the center of the scandal was taken in 2006, while Prince Harry was still a cadet at Sandhurst. Prince Harry took footage of his comrades as they waited for a flight to Cyprus. As he focused on fellow trainee Ahmed Raza Khan, who is now a Lieutenant in the Pakistani army, he remarked, “Ah, our little Paki friend, Ahmed”. In the same video, Prince Harry called another soldier a “raghead”, and pretended to make a phone call to his grandmother, the Queen.
Prince Harry has issued both public and personal apologies over the remark. Lt. Khan, whom Prince Harry spoke with over the phone, is said to have accepted the prince’s apology, and will not be filing a complaint.
In response to the video, the British Ministry of Defence has indicated that they might look into the matter to determine whether Army regulations have been violated. Prince Harry is expected to receive a reprimand, but not formal sanctions, for the incident. The Army will also probe how the home video was leaked to the media.
Not everyone has condemned Prince Harry for his mistake. Prime Minister Gordon Brown sought to remind people of Prince Harry’s military record and that he has apologized for his language:
“Prince Harry knows that these comments are unacceptable. It was a mistake, he has made the admission of that and, once he has made his apology, I think the British people are good enough to give someone who has actually been a role model for young people and has done well fighting for our country, gone into very difficult situations with bravery, I think they will give him the benefit of the doubt.” (via Telegraph)
The Daily Mail’s Allison Pearson wrote a defense of Prince Harry, saying that he has grown up, and he “can do a lot of good for the monarchy if he is forgiven for his mistakes”.
Recently, Prince Charles has also been implicated in accusations of using racist nicknames. Kolin Dhillon, a member of the Cirencester Polo Club, is affectionately called Sooty by members of the club, including Prince Charles and his sons. Dhillon, who has been a friend of the princes for many years, does not find the nickname offensive at all and has issued a statement in defense of the prince:
“I have to say that you know you have arrived when you acquire a nickname. I enjoy being called Sooty by my friends, who I am sure universally use the name as a term of affection with no offence meant or felt.
“The Prince of Wales is a man of zero prejudice and both his sons have always been most respectful.” (via Times Online)
In an even more recent twist to the story, a gay rights campaigner has praised Prince Harry for kissing a male friend. Images of the prince’s show of affection were part of the video released by News of the World.