Prince Harry's Nazi Costume Criticized

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Jewish groups and lawmakers criticized Prince Harry on Thursday for wearing a Nazi uniform to a costume party, with one group urging him to visit the Auschwitz death camp, despite an apology from the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II.

The 20-year-old prince apologized Wednesday in a statement after a British newspaper printed a picture of him wearing the uniform with a swastika armband while clutching a cigarette and a drink at a party on Saturday.

"I think a lot of people will be disappointed to see that photograph and it will cause a lot of offense," said Michael Howard, leader of Britain's main opposition Conservative Party.

"I think it might be appropriate for him to tell us himself just how contrite he now is," added Howard, who is Jewish.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles expressed outrage and urged Prince Harry to travel to Poland later this month to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

"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 center.

Prime Minister Tony Blair's office was reluctant to get involved. "Clearly an error was made," Blair's official spokesman said. "That has been recognized by Harry, and I think it is better that this matter continues to be dealt with by (Buckingham) Palace."

Jewish groups in Britain were more moderate in their criticism.

"The fact that the palace has issued an apology indicates that this was a mistake by the prince," said Rabbi Jonathan Romain, a spokesman for the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain. "But having being given, the apology should now be accepted."

A spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews said the costume "was clearly in bad taste, especially in the run-up to Holocaust Memorial Day" on Jan. 27. But he added: "The board is pleased that he's apologized for the incident."

The queen will commemorate the Holocaust and 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by inviting survivors of the Nazi death camps and British World War II veterans who liberated them to a reception at St. James' Palace.

The picture of Prince Harry, the second son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, appeared in The Sun newspaper.

In the statement, Harry said he was "very sorry if I caused any offense or embarrassment to anyone."

"It was a poor choice of costume and I apologize," he added.

Harry, who plans to enroll this year at a military college, has long been known as the wilder of Charles and Diana's two handsome sons, in contrast to his university-student brother Prince William, 22.

Harry, third in line to the throne, has been photographed drinking in London's trendiest nightclubs and three years ago was sent by his father to observe a drug rehabilitation center after being caught smoking marijuana. In October, he scuffled with a paparazzi photographer outside a London nightclub.

A former Buckingham Palace spokesman said he believed Prince Charles was too easy on his sons.

"I'm sorry, the Prince of Wales, he's a humanitarian and he does some terrific work, but I don't think he has ... the right discipline over his children, particularly Prince Harry," Dickie Arbiter told Sky News TV.


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