King’s College apologises for email with Prince Philip photo after staff outraged over duke’s ‘history of racism’

University apologises for ‘causing harm’ and says picture was not to commemorate him

Shweta Sharma
Monday 31 May 2021 14:03
<p>Queen Elizabeth II with the late Duke of Edinburgh during the State Opening of Parliament </p>

Queen Elizabeth II with the late Duke of Edinburgh during the State Opening of Parliament

King's College London was forced to apologise for sending an email bulletin with a photo of the late Prince Philip, after staff complained of the Duke of Edinburgh’s history of “racist and sexist comments”.

The university, where the Duke had been the governor, sent out the email accompanied by a photo of Prince Philip opening the Maughan Library with the Queen in 2002.

It accompanied the following statement: “As the nation marks the death of HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, we thought you might like to see this photo of the Duke at the official opening of the Maughan Library in 2002, which some colleagues will remember.”

But the email didn’t go down well with some members of staff. The university’s Anti-Racism Community of Practice complained about the picture.

Associate director Joleen Clarke at King’s College libraries issued an apology for “causing the harm” to staff members after receiving a number of complaints.

“The picture was included as a historical reference point following his death,” read the statement. “The inclusion of the picture was not intended to commemorate him.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh attend a service at King’s College, Cambridge

“Through feedback and subsequent conversations, we have come to realise the harm that this caused members of our community, because of his history of racist and sexist comments. We are sorry to have caused this harm.”

However, the apology was met with more criticism and stands accused of being the latest example of “cancel culture”.

The outrage is a result of the various statements made by the Duke of Edinburgh through his lifetime. But royal experts say that Prince Philip “defended liberty and democracy”.

In one of his controversial statements from 1986, during his visit to China, he said to British students: “If you stay here much longer you’ll all be slitty-eyed.”

“If it has four legs and is not a chair, has wings and is not an airplane, or swims and is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it,” he said in another remark in the same year.

The accusations of sexism stem from remarks such as: “I don't think a prostitute is more moral than a wife, but they are doing the same thing.”

Speaking to The Daily Mail, royal expert Hugo Vickers hit out at accusations against the Duke and said: “Prince Philip may have said things at certain times to get a rise out of people, but he was the least racist person.

“In fact, he was very engaged in questions of equality and multi-racial societies going back to the 1950s,” he added.

Toby Young of the Free Speech Union called it an “irony”, saying that if it was not for people like Prince Philip, who put their lives on the line to defend liberty and democracy, the lecturers’ at the “university wouldn’t now enjoy the freedom to attack people like him.

“When a war hero dies, shouldn’t these republican firebrands just say, “Thank you for your service”, and save the political point-scoring for another day?”

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