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Prince Harry sorry for racist language

A self-filmed video was released showing him calling an army colleague a 'Paki'. -AFP

Mon, Jan 12, 2009

LONDON - BRITAIN'S Prince Harry apologised on Sunday for any offence caused after a self-filmed video was released showing him calling an army colleague a 'Paki' and telling another he looked like a 'raghead'.

The video, obtained by the News of the World weekly, plunges the 24-year-old army lieutenant, third in line to the throne, into fresh controversy four years after he sparked an outcry by wearing a Nazi swastika at a fancy dress party.

Politicians condemned his remarks and welcomed his apology, but Muslim youth organisation the Ramadan Foundation said the comments were 'sickening'.

The Ministry of Defence said it would not tolerate 'inappropriate behaviour' and Prince Harry's commanding officer would look into his remarks.

Britain's biggest-selling newspaper said the clips, posted on its website, were made in 2006 when the prince was still an officer cadet.

The footage begins as Harry is waiting with his platoon in an airport departure lounge for a flight to a training exercise in Cyprus.

Touring the room with a video camera as his colleagues snooze, he spots a colleague of South Asian ethnic origin and says: 'Anybody else around here?... Ah, our little Paki friend, Ahmed.'

'Paki' is a racist term for Pakistanis or other South Asians.

Prince Harry's office issued an apology, but insisted the prince had used the term without malice.

'Prince Harry fully understands how offensive this term can be, and is extremely sorry for any offence his words might cause,' a spokesman 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.' Iftakhar Raja told BBC radio that the cadet was his nephew, Ahmed Raza Khan, from Pakistan, who served with Harry at the Sandhurst military academy.

Prince Harry's grandmother Queen Elizabeth II presented Khan with the Overseas Sword for being the best foreign cadet in April 2006.

'At no time he told us that he was called Paki or he was a good friend of Prince Harry,' Mr Raja said.

'I am proud to be British and if someone called me Pakistani I would be proud to be called that, but Paki is definitely a derogatory remark. We expect better from our royal family.'

The report said Prince Harry made the 'raghead' remark - a racist term for Arabs - while taking part in night manoeuvres in Cyprus.

The prince is filming when he spots a comrade with camouflage netting over his head and as he faces the camera, Prince Harry says: 'It's Dan the Man... F*ck me, you look like a raghead.'

The royal spokesman said: 'Prince Harry used the term 'raghead' to mean Taliban or Iraqi insurgent.'

The prince served with the army battling Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan last year but was forced to return home after a media blackout was broken. He is to begin training soon as a combat helicopter pilot.

Cabinet minister John Denham condemned Prince Harry's language, saying: 'People have changed their attitudes, people realise how offensive it is and I think the fact he has apologised so quickly shows that he's recognised it.'

David Cameron, leader of the main opposition Conservatives, said Prince Harry's comments were 'completely unacceptable' and it was 'right' he had apologised, but did not call for him to be reprimanded.

Mohammed Shafiq, director of the Ramadan Foundation, said: 'I am deeply shocked and saddened at Prince Harry's racism which upsets and offends many British Asians... this rant, whether today or three years ago, is sickening and he should be thoroughly ashamed of himself.' A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: 'Neither the army nor the armed forces tolerates inappropriate behaviour in any shape or form.

'The army takes all allegations of inappropriate behaviour very seriously and all substantive allegations are investigated.' In another clip from the three-minute video, Prince Harry pretends to make a mobile phone call to Queen Elizabeth.

He says: 'Granny, I've got to go. Send my love to the corgis. And Grandpa... Bye. God save you. Yeah, that's great. See you, bye.'

Harry, the youngest son of Prince Charles and the late princess Diana, has sought to shake off his 'playboy prince' reputation and is heavily involved in a charity in Lesotho to support children orphaned by Aids. -- AFP

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