Fury intensifies over Prince Harry's fancy dress swastika

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Condemnation intensified today over Prince Harry's "shameful" decision to wear a swastika at a fancy dress party.

Condemnation intensified today over Prince Harry's "shameful" decision to wear a swastika at a fancy dress party.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, one of the largest international Jewish human rights organisations, issued a hard hitting statement amid worldwide anger over the Prince's latest gaffe.

A picture of Harry in the Nazi regalia was published on the front page of The Sun newspaper and Clarence House swiftly issued a statement from the Prince late last night in which he apologised for any offence.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre said: "This was a shameful act displaying insensitivity for the victims, not just for those soldiers of his own country who gave their lives to defeat Nazism, but to the victims of the Holocaust who were the principal victims of the Nazis.

"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."

The Sun said Harry, 20, wore the desert uniform of Rommel's German Afrika Korps to the party in Wiltshire last Saturday. A photo shows him wearing a swastika armband and a badge of the German Wehrmacht, or defence force, on his collar.

In a statement, the Prince said: "I am very sorry if I caused any offence or embarrassment to anyone. It was a poor choice of costume and I apologise."

Labour backbencher and former armed forces minister Doug Henderson said the incident demonstrated that the prince was unfit to train as a British Army officer at Sandhurst.

He said on BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "If it had been a sort of Freddie Starr satirical take-off of what happened during the Second World War, then I think people would understand. It might not have been very clever, but it wouldn't be malicious in any way.

"But from what I can gather, there is no suggestion that that is the case. It is a straightforward Nazi armband, and 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, and I really think it disqualifies Prince Harry from Sandhurst."

The Conservative leader Michael Howard said he too believed that Prince Harry should apologise in person for the offence he had caused.

Mr Howard said on the Today programme: "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.

"I think there are various ways in which that can be done. I don't think the precise form it takes matters, but I think it would be appropriate if we heard from him in person about how contrite he is.

"I think it is something that will disappoint very many people and offend many people."

But the Home Secretary Charles Clarke said: "I think he has apologised and I think we should leave the matter there.

"I quite understand people's concerns about what he has done. But he has apologised and I think that is where the matter should be left to lie. He has made a statement apologising - that is his statement, which we should respect."

The former royal press spokesman Dicky Arbiter called on the Prince to make a personal, broadcast apology.

He said: "In this circumstance, with Holocaust Memorial Day coming up very shortly, a written apology is not enough.

"If he now wants to be considered an adult, he has got to behave like an adult, and he has got to apologise in person, through radio and television. It is just not good enough to behave like that. We all know history, and at 20 there is no excuse."

He said he felt sorry for the Prince of Wales.

"Once again he has been let down by his wayward son. Every time there is some good, there is lots of bad. And it can't go on. If he is old enough and seems fit enough to boogie at a party, then he must be fit enough to go into the Army and that is where he needs to go for some good hard-knocking discipline."

Andy Pike, from Unite Against Fascism, said: "Prince Harry has had a very expensive education, is supposedly fit to be an officer serving in his country's armed forces and one would assume he is not a complete idiot.

"One would be very surprised if he were not aware of the significance of wearing the swastika and the amount of offence that would cause.

"We believe it will offend the whole of the Jewish community and many others."

He called for the third in line to the throne to do more than apologise, and "distance" himself from the Nazis.

"We don't think that .125an apology.375 is enough. We would like to see Harry distance himself from Nazi ideas of white supremacy, anti-semitism and racism because he is a very influential figure."

Lord Janner, a former Labour MP and one-time president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said the Prince's action was "totally wrong and totally inappropriate".

He added: "I understand he has apologised and so he should.

"Britain stood alone against the Nazis and to dress as a Nazi was just youthful stupidity.

"I think he should be disciplined. He should understand what he has done and why it is so offensive.

"If he'd realised how offensive it was I don't think he would have done it."

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, a spokesman for the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain, said: "The fact that the palace has issued an apology indicates that this was a mistake by the Prince.

"But having being given, the apology should now be accepted."

A spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews echoed the words of Dr Romain, saying: "The board is pleased that he's apologised for the incident.

"It was clearly in bad taste, especially in the run up to Holocaust Memorial Day on the 27th of this month, which the Royal Family will be taking a leading role in commemorating."

The Queen is to commemorate the Holocaust and 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by inviting survivors of the Nazi death camps and British veterans who liberated them to a reception at St James's Palace.

With the Duke of Edinburgh, she will also attend the Holocaust Memorial Day national commemoration at London's Westminster Hall on January 27.

The Sun reported Harry, who is due to train at Sandhurst later this year, was among 250 guests at the party for friend Harry Meade's 22nd birthday.

Older brother William was also reported to have attended, dressed in a home-made lion and leopard outfit to fit the theme of Native and Colonial.

But the paper said it was Harry's outfit of beige shirt and trousers and Nazi insignia which was the talk of party guests.