Prince Harry apologized on Thursday after he was photographed wearing a Nazi soldier’s uniform with a red and black swastika armband and an army shirt while clutching a drink at a friend’s costume party on Saturday.
Under headlines reading “Hitler Youth” and “Harry the Nazi,” the photo ran on the front page of Britain’s best-selling Sun tabloid Thursday, which, as is being widely noted, is just two weeks before the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
In his statement, Harry, 20, said: “I am very sorry if I caused any offence or embarrassment to anyone. It was a poor choice of costume and I apologize.”
Despite Harry’s words, Jewish groups, politicians and royalwatchers have roundly condemned the younger son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana for his insensitivity in the first place.
Labour Party MP and former armed forces minister Doug Henderson said the incident “disqualifies Prince Harry from Sandhurst” military academy, where he is set to go in May. Henderson told the BBC: “I think that would offend an awful lot of people who fought in the Second World War and relatives who lost people in that war.”
The Board of Deputies of British Jews, saying it “is pleased that he’s apologized for … his ill-judged actions,” stated, “We would now want to concentrate on ensuring that everyone understands the evils and enormity of the Holocaust, and the resonance of the swastika, not only to the Jewish community, but to all in the United Kingdom affected by the Second World War against the Nazis.”
Still, there is a growing feeling that an apology released through official channels was not enough and Harry should make a statement in person or on TV (as has been suggested by former royal press spokesman Dickie Arbiter) or even pay a personal visit to a concentration camp so he might witness exactly what a Nazi uniform symbolizes.
“We strongly urge Prince Harry to accompany the British delegation on Jan. 27 to the Auschwitz death camp to commemorate 60 years since liberation. There he will see the results of the hated symbol he so foolishly and brazenly chose to wear,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Prime Minister Tony Blair’s office reportedly has refused to comment.