Does Prince Harry Have 'Spare Heir' Syndrome?

Every royal family needs a black sheep, says British historian.

ByABC News via logo
January 11, 2009, 12:03 PM

Jan. 11, 2009 — -- Has royal rogue Prince Harry finally gone too far? Harry issued an apology Saturday after a British newspaper released a tape that caught him making racist remarks while serving in the military.

While Queen Elizabeth and the rest of the Windsors are likely not at all amused by Harry's recent faux pas, one British historian says these royal screw-ups make the public love the black sheep of the royal family.

The News of the World released a video, reportedly taped by fellow army cadets in 2006, in which Harry called a platoon member "our little Paki friend," a reference to Pakistanis considered offensive in Britain. And he called another soldier who was wearing a headscarf a "raghead," derogatory slang for Arabs.

British historian Robert Lacey said Harry will survive the uproar and compared his remarks to past royal scandals.

"In the grand scheme of things, I think they will have forgotten it by next week," Lacey told "Good Morning America Weekend." "Sixteen, 17 years ago we were pondering over the fact that his father had been caught on the telephone talking to his mistress saying that he wanted to be a tampon inside her. We heard about his mother talking to lovers on the telephone. I think this is all part of what we rather enjoy in Britain about the royal family."

Harry's handlers offered an apology and an explanation Saturday.

"Prince Harry fully understands how offensive this term can be, and is extremely sorry for any offense his words might cause," spokesman Patrick Harrison said in a statement.

"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."

Harrison also said that Harry had used the term "raghead" to refer to either the Taliban or Iraqi insurgents.