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Harry apologises for racist remarks

world Updated: Jan 12, 2009 01:26 IST
Vijay Dutt
Vijay Dutt
Hindustan Times
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The third in line for succession to the throne, Prince Harry, 24, was forced to say sorry after being caught on video — obtained by the News of the World — using the term Paki about an Asian colleague in the Army.

In the film, he calls an officer from the Pakistani army, who was on the course with him, “our little Paki friend” and, when he sees another officer cadet wearing a camouflage veil, exclaims: “F… me, you look like a raghead.”

He also mocks the Queen — the commander-in-chief of the British army — during a pretend mobile phone call. The comments were reportedly made in footage shot while training as an officer at the Sandhurst military academy in 2006, a year after being forced to make a public apology for wearing a Nazi swastika at a fancy dress party.

The jibe, it was said, could infuriate army chiefs aiming to recruit Muslims into forces. A Ministry of Defence spokesman said, “This sort of language is not acceptable in a modern army.” Staff officers have insisted the Army’s policy must be “zero tolerance to all forms of discrimination”.

A statement from St James’s Palace said he used the word three years ago as a nickname for a friend and without any malice. The trainee officer — identified as Ahmed Raza Khan — was said to be unaware of the racist comment as officer cadets made the recording. But a man claiming to be the uncle of Khan said he “expected better” from the Royal Family.

Adding to Harry’s trouble the Equality and Human Rights Commission has demanded a formal inquiry into Harry’s behaviour, and Muslim groups and leading MPs have warned the comments could increase tensions with Islamic groups in the UK.