Royal Furor Continues Over Harry's Racial Remarks

Prince apologizes for slurs; lawmakers and Muslim groups say that's not enough.

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

Jan. 12, 2009 — -- Racially charged comments from Britain's Prince Harry that were captured on video while he was in the military are creating an explosive backlash in Britain, with lawmakers and Muslim groups condemning the 24-year-old's language.

While filming a video diary during his military training, Harry turned the camera on a fellow solder and said, "There he is, our little Paki friend."

"Paki" is a derogatory term used to describe South Asian immigrants in England.

David Cameron, Britain's opposition Conservative Party leader, said Harry's comments undermined work to root out racism from the country's armed forces.

"It is obviously a completely unacceptable thing to say," Cameron told the BBC.

The News of the World newspaper released the tape this weekend, reporting that Harry had made the remarks in 2006 during a visit to Cyprus to carry out training exercises with fellow military cadets.

One Pakistani man in London who did not give his name said it was "disgusting."

"If the royals are thinking about us in this way, then I'm sure other people are going to think the same," he said.

Harry has been in trouble before with alcohol, drugs and fistfights, and he's been called a racist after he dressed as a Nazi for a costume party in 2005.

But many in Britain believe this latest royal blunder is by far the worst. One London tabloid headline this morning read, "Sorry's Not Good Enough."

"The monarchy, as an institution, is here to unify the country, that's what they say their job is. But this, far from unifying the nation, is actually dangerous, I think," said Robert Jobson, a News of the World editor.

The prince'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."

Harry was also caught on tape telling another cadet, "You look like a raghead." "Raghead" is a derogatory term for Arabs.

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

Harry's language "is sickening, and he should be thoroughly ashamed of himself," said Mohammed Shafiq, director of the Ramadan Foundation, a British Muslim youth organization.