Harry says sorry for saying ‘Paki’

January 11th, 2009 - 4:58 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 11 (IANS) Prince Harry, the third in line to the British throne, has apologised after being caught on film using allegedly racist and gay insults about members of his platoon.In the film, taken in 2006, Harry refers to an Asian army colleague as “our little Paki friend”, said the News of the World newspaper, which also put up the video on its website Sunday.

The comments were criticised by the British defence ministry, a senior Muslim MP and the country’s main race relations body.

The film was taken on a camcorder when Harry was still training to be an officer at Sandhurst.

As he joins other cadets at an airport for their flight to Cyprus, Harry, who is behind the camcorder, pans over snoozing soldiers and zooms in on an Asian soldier. “Ah, our little Paki friend, Ahmed,” he says.

The soldier was thought to be Ahmed Raza Khan, an award winner at Sandhurst military academy for being the best overseas trainee, the BBC said.

Khan, from Pakistan, was presented with the Overseas Sword at the military academy by the Queen when he graduated along with Harry.

In a second remark - made after arriving in Cyprus - Harry tells one of his comrades, who is wearing a camouflage headgear: “It’s Dan the Man … F**k me, you look like a raghead” - a derogatory term for an Arab.

Harry also pretends to make a telephone call to Queen Elizabeth II, his grandmother, finishing it by saying, “I’ve got to go, got to go. Send my love to the corgis. Send my love to the corgis and Grandpa. God Save You.”

At another point Harry asks another member of the squad to talk through the exercise they have just done. He asks for “your ups and downs in the exercise. Highs and lows … Good points, bad points.” Off camera, he adds: “How do you feel? Gay? Queer on the side?”

In a statement, St James Palace said Prince Harry “fully understands how offensive this term can be, and is extremely sorry for any offence his words might cause.

“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.”

The statement continued: “Prince Harry used the term ‘raghead’ to mean Taleban or Iraqi insurgent.”

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence said: “Neither the Army nor the Armed Forces tolerate inappropriate behaviour in any shape or form. This sort of language is not acceptable in a modern army.”

Labour MP Khalid Mahmood said: “This might have been said in a light-hearted manner but ultimately it’s offensive to a lot of people.

“He needs to understand that this is not acceptable, especially in light of the office that he is going to hold in the Army and as a member of the royal family.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has demanded a formal inquiry into Harry’s behaviour.

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