Prince Harry may face racism inquiry for ‘Paki’ remark

LONDON: A video diary of Prince Harry making racist remarks and mocking his grandmother, the queen, while on the British army duty, has led to a royal apology and demands for a racism inquiry. The prince, who is third in line to the throne, made the comments in a 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.

In the film, the 24-year-old prince calls an officer from the Pakistan 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. “I’ve got to go, got to go,” he said while being filmed pretending to finish a call to her.

“Send my love to the corgis. Send my love to the corgis and Grandpa. God save you … yeah, that’s great.”The video footage was released by the News of the World newspaper on Saturday night.

St James’s Palace has issued an apology for Prince Harry’s behaviour in the film. “Prince Harry fully understands how offensive this term can be, and is extremely sorry for any offence his words might cause,” the statement read.

“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.

“Prince Harry used the term ‘raghead’ to mean Taliban or Iraqi insurgent.” A UK Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “This sort of language is not acceptable in a modern army. “Neither the army nor the armed forces tolerate inappropriate behaviour in any shape or form.

“The army takes all allegations of inappropriate behaviour very seriously and all substantive allegations are investigated.” The film will infuriate army chiefs, who are actively trying to recruit Muslims as intelligence officers and translators for the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Staff officers have insisted the army’s policy must be “zero tolerance to all forms of discrimination”.

But the casual use of racist terms by the prince appears to add weight to recent claims by a Jamaican-born soldier that he faced regular racist abuse from non-commissioned and senior officers.

In September, three army instructors were suspended after an undercover BBC investigation into the Infantry Training Centre at Catterick in Yorkshire. During the programme, one recruit was secretly filmed yelling “Paki” as he plunged his bayonet into a target dummy.

The prince’s video begins as he joins other cadets gathering at an airport for their flight to Cyprus. He is behind the camcorder, panning over snoozing soldiers when he zooms in on the face of a Pakistani soldier. “Ah, our little Paki friend … Ahmed,” he whispers.

The trainee officer is thought to be Ahmed Raza Khan, who served with Prince Harry at the Sandhurst for one year as a Commonwealth cadet. Iftikhar Raja, from Croydon, south London, who told the BBC Radio Five Live that he was Khan’s uncle, said he expected better from the royal family. “At no time he told us that he was called Paki or he was a good friend of Prince Harry, I mean, although they served together that is true.

“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 on whom we spend millions and millions of pounds for training and schooling.”

The second remark comes after arriving in Cyprus. Prince Harry is again filming his comrades when one puts what appears to be some camouflage over his head. The prince says: “It’s Dan the Man … f*** me, you look like a raghead.”

In another piece of footage, he gives orders to his comrades on an upcoming exercise. When he asks if there are any questions, one says: “Are your p**** ginger too?” The prince replies: “Yes they are,” to laughter from the rest. Muhammad Shafiq, the director of the Ramadan Foundation, said Harry’s comments would offend many Asians.

Source: The News, 12th January, 2009

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