During a visit to an electronics factory in Scotland, Prince Philip saw a messy fuse box and said it looked "as though it was put in by an Indian". Within hours, Buckingham Palace said: "The Duke of Edinburgh regrets any offence which may have been caused by remarks he is reported as making earlier today. With hindsight, he accepts what were intended as light-hearted comments were inappropriate."
Prince Philip has previously made remarks offensive to minority groups. In May, during a visit to the Welsh Assembly, he met a group from the British Deaf Association, pointed to a Caribbean music band, and said: "Deaf? If you are near there, no wonder you are deaf."
On a visit to China in 1986 he told British students: "If you stay here much longer you'll all be slitty-eyed."
Kumar Murshid, chairman off the National Assembly Against Racism, condemned the Duke's latest remark as "absolutely abysmal and disgraceful. This sort of thing is of great concern to us." And a spokeswoman for the Commission for Racial Equality described it as "very unfortunate. We look to the Royal Family to be positively promoting racial equality."
However, Dr Shanfi Kauser, secretary of the Islamic Centre in Glasgow, said he was not offended. "He is a nice man and I don't think he has done anything out of malice," he said. "On other occasions he has been very complimentary to us. I think he should be excused."
n Jeffrey Archer, Tory hopeful for Mayor of London, refused to apologise yesterday for saying that black women in Britain used to be fat and badly dressed, claiming his comments were taken out of context.
Michael Ancram, the Conservative Party chairman, said Lord Archer would be answerable to London members of the party in the selection contest. But the Tory-supporting singer Patti Boulaye defended him. "I am talking as a black woman who knows Jeffrey Archer. Jeffrey is not a racist," she said.