British Army to probe Prince Harry’s racist ‘Paki’ remarks

January 12th, 2009 - 10:39 am ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 12 (IANS) The British army will inquire into Prince Harry’s alleged racist remarks about his fellow trainees in a video, in particular, calling a Pakistani officer as a ‘Paki’.The defence ministry indicated that the prince, who is third in line to the British throne, could face disciplinary action, though the inquiry will not be a formal one as no complaint has been filed.

An army spokesman said: “The army does not tolerate inappropriate behaviour in any shape or form. The army takes all allegations of inappropriate behaviour very seriously and all substantive allegations are investigated. This specific case will be dealt with in line with normal army procedures.”

The announcement came after a day of universal condemnation for the prince, who has already issued an apology for his comments.

His father, the Prince of Wales, is reported to have spoken to his son about the footage in which he also refers to Muslim insurgents as ‘rag-heads’ and makes a spoof telephone call to the Queen.

Meanwhile, his comments were widely condemned as “sickening” and racist in tone.

Iftakhar Raja, uncle of Ahmed Raza Khan, the officer whom the prince called a ‘Paki’, said he “expected better” from a member of the royal family. He described the comments as “definitely derogatory” and “insulting”.

Raja, who lives in Croydon, London, 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 and it’s insulting. We expect better from our royal family on whom we spend millions and millions of pounds for training and schooling and they come with the f-word and calling people Paki or whatever.”

Conservative leader David Cameron said the prince’s tone was “unacceptable”. “In the great institutions, whether it’s the Army or political parties, we have had to root out attitudes - and that has to go right across the institutions, it’s very important.”

Talking to the BBC, Cameron said Harry need not be punished: “He’s made an apology, it’s important that he’s clear about that and I think that’s enough.”

However, Rod Richards, who served as a Foreign Office minister in the Conservative government of John Major and also as an officer in the Royal Marines, said that taken in a military context, Harry’s comments were not racist or derogatory.

He said: “I am a Welshman and it was quite common for people like me to be called Taffy. Similar nicknames are also used for people from other parts of the world. The use of the word ‘Paki’ doesn’t surprise me but in a military context, it is not derogatory. People are making an issue out of something that is not an issue.”

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