Royals reject calls for Harry to make his apology on TV

Key points

• Prince issues brief statement apologising for 'any offence or embarrassment'

• Politicians demand Prince Harry make full public apology

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• Ministry of Defence says prince’s place at Sandhurst will not be affected

Key quote

"We strongly urge Prince Harry to accompany the British delegation on 27 January 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" - Rabbi Marvin Hier

Story in full CLARENCE House last night insisted Prince Harry would not apologise in person for his appearance at a fancy dress party in a Nazi uniform, despite mounting public criticism.

The 20-year-old, who is third in line to the throne, was the subject of widespread condemnation from Jewish community leaders, anti-Nazi groups, politicians of all colours and former soldiers.

Colonel Bob Stewart, who led British United Nations troops in Bosnia, said the prince must be "an enormous idiot with a minimum of commonsense".

However, the prince remained silent after a brief statement was issued saying he was "very sorry if I have caused any offence or embarrassment" despite growing calls for a more public display of contrition.

The Conservative leader Michael Howard, the Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy and the Queen’s former assistant press secretary, Dickie Arbiter, all called for the prince to appear in public to make a more full apology.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, one of the largest international Jewish human rights organisations, said he should accompany his uncle, Prince Edward, to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland later this month to mark the 60th anniversary of its liberation, but this idea was rejected by Clarence House.

The furore broke out after it emerged the prince had worn what appeared to be an attempt at the desert uniform of the Erwin Rommel’s German Afrika Korps to a friend’s birthday party - themed colonials and natives - last Saturday.

He was photographed wearing an armband with a black swastika and red surround - the infamous Nazi symbol.

Mr Howard, who is Jewish and whose father fled fascism in Romania in 1939, said: "I think a lot of people will be disappointed to see that photograph and it will cause a lot of offence.

"Prince Harry has apologised. I have no doubt that his father and his family will have a good deal to say to him in private. I think it might be appropriate for him to tell us himself just how contrite he now is."

Mr Kennedy said the prince should say sorry publicly "just to make that apology all the more personal".

Mr Arbiter said a written apology "is not enough".

Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, was outraged.

"We strongly urge Prince Harry to accompany the British delegation on 27 January 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," he said.

It is understood the prince’s advisers have ruled out a visit to Auschwitz because it "wouldn’t be right" for him to attend the anniversary amid the row.

A leader comment in today’s edition of the Jewish Chronicle was due to say:

"For a member of the Royal Family to conclude that it might be a nice lark to dress up in the trappings of a genocidal dictatorship whom his own brave elders helped, at huge cost, to defeat six decades ago was nothing short of mind-boggling."

Holocaust survivors said Prince Harry’s costume was "very tasteless" and "offensive" but said he could not have known what he was doing.

Czech-born Marianne Grant, 83, chose voluntarily to go to Auschwitz to accompany her mother Anna, who was forcibly transported to the death camp where some 860,000 died.

She was spared because she was fit for hard labour and because of her skills as a painter, which saw her appointed as the personal artist of the notorious Nazi doctor, Josef Mengele.

Mrs Grant, who lives in Glasgow, said she shuddered when she saw a Nazi swastika. "It’s a frightening thing," she said.

For Prince Harry to wear one was "very offensive towards people who lost dear ones during the war and offensive to the survivors and the memories of all the people who died".

But she added: "He probably didn’t think it through. It shows that the youth of today are actually very detached from what happened.

"It was definitely a mistake, but anybody can make a mistake. We’re all human."

Former rabbi Ernest Levy, 79, who also lives in Glasgow, survived seven concentration camps, including Auschwitz and Belsen. Mr Levy, whose wife Kathleen also survived the Holocaust, said: "We don’t want to over-react, that would be a mistake, but it’s a very tasteless idea.

"We all feel sick when we see the swastika, especially at this time of year when all over the world we remember the catastrophe Europe was thrown into.

"I wouldn’t blame him as a young lad. It’s really very, very silly, but he didn’t really mean anything bad. Why would he?"

But others said there should be serious repercussions.

The former armed forces minister Doug Henderson, now a Labour back-bencher, said the prince should withdraw his application to train as an army officer. "I don’t think this young man is suitable for Sandhurst," he said.

Col Stewart said the prince must be "an enormous idiot with a minimum of commonsense" but added: "He’s made a serious error but it’s not an error that should stop him entering officer training. The army helps take arrogance away."

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman confirmed the prince’s place at Sandhurst would not be affected.

A Clarence House spokesman said: "Prince Harry has publicly apologised for his error of judgment. There’s nothing further that needs to be done." Going to Auschwitz was "something we’re not considering", he added.

'SWASTIKA SYMBOLISES THE DEATH OF MOST OF MY FAMILY'

The chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust and ex-Labour MP argues the prince was utterly wrong and is old enough to know how offensive his actions would be

THE Nazi symbol is the symbol of death. Death for British troops who were engaged in Hitler’s war and death for the people murdered in the Holocaust, including the vast majority of my family.

For a member of the Royal Family to wear a swastika was unbelievable, unacceptable and stupid. I think that it was totally wrong and inappropriate.

A 20-year-old is not a boy, but a young man. He is not a child any more. This is a young man who ought to know better. He should handle this like a man, and come out in public and apologise.

It was not enough to put out a statement which was written for him by members of the royal staff. He ought to have the guts to stand up publicly and say: "I did not intend to offend people. I did not realise how offensive it was."

However, I don’t agree with the view that Prince Harry should go to Auschwitz or join the events to mark the anniversary of the Holocaust.

Holocaust Memorial Day is the 27th of this month and the Queen is the guest of honour [at the national commemoration in London]. She will be receiving survivors and their families.

I don’t believe that it would be appropriate for Harry to go, nor do I think he should go to Auschwitz, because the attention would be all on him and not on the issue. But if in a few months time he decides to go, he should be taken quietly by a survivor and that would be sensible and proper.

I would not say that such things [as the fancy dress incident] always have to be taken seriously. It depends on the context and on who is doing it. When John Cleese did his Nazi impression it was very funny and totally acceptable. It was a brilliant spoof, which was clearly intended to be funny.

But I am very surprised by Prince Harry’s behaviour. It’s hugely offensive for a man from the Royal Family to dress as a Nazi. It is not at all funny.

I think if there are people who were in the British forces during the war or who had families who were murdered by the Nazis, they would be offended that a man in his position could do such a thing.

But I don’t think the incident should prevent Prince Harry from entering the armed forces. Quite the contrary. I think the sooner he gets in, the better.

LORD JANNER

'THERE ARE A LOT MORE IMPORTANT THINGS GOING ON'

THE award-winning comedian, singer-songwriter and author of the Fringe play Hitler Sells Tickets says it’s hard to see which costume Harry could have worn without offending

I’VE never dressed up as Hitler on stage but a lot of comedians have done over the years.

Now I’m older I don’t shave every day because I can’t be bothered and I do sometimes leave a Hitler moustache on my top lip. Of course I never leave the house, but I did open the door once to the postman and, since then, every time he sees me he smiles at me.

Impersonating Nazis is definitely not off limits in terms of comedy. You had Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator, Norman Wisdom was in a film where he played a Nazi commandant, Peter Sellers was one in Dr Strangelove and John Cleese ends up doing Nazi salutes in Fawlty Towers.

Some people were offended by ‘Allo ‘Allo when that started and then, of course, there is The Producers, with the song Springtime for Hitler, which is all about bad taste.

But it depends who’s doing the joke. If Ricky Gervais or Matt Lucas dressed up in a Nazi costume it would be called hilarious and pushing back the boundaries of comedy.

The theme of the party was "colonialism" so it’s hard to see what costume he could have chosen that wouldn’t have been offensive when millions of people were murdered in the name of colonialism. I suppose he could have gone dressed as Queen Victoria.

Of course, putting on a Nazi armband doesn’t mean you are sympathetic to extreme right- wing views - but the Royal Family don’t have an unblemished reputation on this subject. And they are German.

It’s interesting that he didn’t go for the full Nazi costume. It can’t have been a lack of money. But he’s just gone for the Nazi armband. He’s chosen to be a rank-and-file Nazi, which casts an interesting light on the way he sees himself.

I do find it incredibly funny that a member of the Royal Family has been caught wearing a Nazi armband. It makes you wonder whether it was really fancy dress or if he had just come from a meeting and forgotten to take it off.

But I don’t know if it is really worth making such a huge fuss about. I think there are a lot of more important things going on in the world.

BOOTHBY GRAFFOE