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Prince Andrew made racist comments about Arabs at Buckingham Palace dinner, claims former home secretary

‘Unbelievable’ remarks included jokes about camels which left guests ‘slack-jawed’, says Jacqui Smith

Chris Baynes
Tuesday 19 November 2019 18:04 GMT
Prince Andrew: I stayed at convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein's house because I am 'too honorable'

The Duke of York made racist comments about Arabs during a state dinner for the Saudi royal family, a former home secretary has alleged.

Prince Andrew’s “unbelievable” remarks at the Buckingham Palace banquet left other guests “slack-jawed” with disbelief, Jacqui Smith said.

The allegations thrust the royal into the second racism row in as many days, after he was accused of using the word “n*****” during a meeting with a Downing Street aide.

The claims come in the wake of a “car crash” interview with BBC Newsnight in which the duke insisted he did not regret his friendship with paedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

Ms Smith, who was Labour’s home secretary between 2007 and 2009, made her allegations on Sunday during an LBC podcast she co-hosts with Iain Dale.

During a discussion of the royal’s links with Epstein, she said: “I met him [Prince Andrew] several times, including once at a state banquet where after dinner, I and my husband and another Labour cabinet minister had a drink with him, and I have to say the conversation left us slack-jawed with the things that he felt it was appropriate to say.”

Pressed on what the duke had said, the ex-MP added: “It was a state dinner for the Saudi royal family and he made racist comments about Arabs that were unbelievable.

“The fact he thought we might find this amusing was sort of a terrible situation to be in. I don’t think he’s very bright. I don’t think he really understands the way in which he behaves. He’s the worst end of the royal family, I think.

“I am not going to tell you exactly what he said but it involved a comment about camels. It is as worse as you could imagine.”

Prince Andrew was seated next to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah during the state banquet, hosted by the Queen in 2007.

Ms Smith said she regretted not challenging the duke over his comments at the time, telling her co-host: “It was a state banquet, we were in Buckingham Palace, we were cabinet ministers. I feel ashamed that we didn’t but we didn’t.”

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman told The Independent: “His Royal Highness has undertaken a considerable amount of work in the Middle East over a period of years and has many friends from the region. He does not tolerate racism in any form.”​

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On Monday the palace denied “categorically” that Prince Andrew had used the N-word during a meeting with Rohan Silva, then prime minister David Cameron’s technology adviser, in 2012.

Mr Silva, who is of Sri Lankan descent, said he had asked the royal if the government’s department responsible for international trade “could be doing a better job” and the prince responded: “Well, if you’ll pardon the expression, that really is the n***** in the woodpile.”

Writing in the Evening Standard, the former aide said: “The meeting ended shortly afterwards, and I remember distinctly how I walked blinking into the sunshine outside Buckingham Palace, reeling at the prince’s use of language.”

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