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11 Jan 2009 09:21
Britain’s Prince Harry apologised on Saturday after a newspaper website published video footage showing him calling an Asian army colleague a “Paki”, but he said he had used the term without malice.
The News of the World tabloid said the recording was made in 2006, a year after Harry was pilloried for wearing a Nazi uniform at a costume party, a gaffe that sparked an international outcry.
In some of the footage, 24-year-old Harry—grandson of Queen Elizabeth and third in line to the British throne—is behind the camera and can he heard making a mock commentary.
“Anyone else here ... ah, our little Paki friend ...
Ahmed,” Harry says as he zooms on to the face of an Asian officer cadet while waiting at an airport to fly to Cyprus.
The word “Paki” is derogatory slang for an immigrant or descendant of an immigrant from Pakistan.
Harry was also shown telling another officer cadet wearing a camouflage veil during a night manoeuvre in Cyprus, “You look like a raghead”—an offensive term for an Arab.
A spokesperson for Britain’s royal family said there had been no racist intent in Harry’s words.
“Prince Harry fully understands how offensive this term [Paki] can be, and is extremely sorry for any offence his words might cause,” the spokesperson said.
“However, on this occasion three years ago, Prince Harry used the term without any malice and as a nickname about a highly popular member of his platoon.
“There is no question that Prince Harry was in any way seeking to insult his friend.”
The spokesperson said Harry had used “raghead” to mean a Taliban or Iraqi insurgent.
The Defence Ministry said it was not aware of any complaint being made by the two soldiers.
“The army takes all allegations of inappropriate behaviour very seriously and all substantive allegations are investigated,” it said in a statement.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an umbrella group for British Muslim organisations, said Harry’s language had been unacceptable and had harmed the image of the army, which has been trying to recruit more widely from minorities.
But MCB spokesperson Inayat Bunglawala said Harry had done the right thing by apologising.
In May, Harry was awarded a military service medal for 10 weeks of frontline service in Afghanistan.
His tour of duty in Afghanistan with the Household Cavalry Regiment was cut short after a media blackout collapsed, sparking fears worldwide coverage of his deployment could make him a target for pro-Taliban insurgents. - Reuters
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