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Last Updated: Friday, 14 January, 2005, 10:59 GMT
Papers shocked at Harry stunt

Papers in Europe and Israel take a dim view of Prince Harry's decision to wear a Nazi costume to a fancy dress party.

Reaction ranges from outrage to bemused concern about the state of the British psyche.

The fact that the incident coincides with the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the biggest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz, also attracts attention.

"This is a scandal, not a slip-up by an insensitive prince who is not exactly regarded as the intellectual colossus of his generation," says Germany's Die Welt.

Let's face facts: the British simply like to engage in some Nazi fun, they cannot help it
Der Tagesspiegel

It wonders if Prince Harry is one of the 45 per cent of Britons who have never heard of Auschwitz.

"Nevertheless," the paper continues, "the question remains: why is it that when there is so much growing ignorance in the country, everything to do with the Nazis is dragged out on the most inappropriate occasions?"

'Nazi fun'

Another German paper, Bild, is equally uncharitable, describing the prince's choice of attire as a "terrible faux pas".

True, it says, the British are by now accustomed to Prince Harry causing a bit of a stir with his "vulgarity, punch-ups, binge drinking".

"But now, with his Nazi act, he has probably gone too far," it believes.

Still in Germany, Der Tagesspiegel takes a more relaxed view.

"Let's face facts: the British simply like to engage in some Nazi fun, they cannot help it," the paper says.

It notes that in Germany, too, people have begun to "laugh more about Hitler and his funny Nazis".

Plain silly

The French press is staunchly unforgiving.

"Twenty-years old and already a history well-stocked with scandals," says Le Figaro.

This has dealt a harsh blow to the royal family's reputation
Novyye Izvestiya

"This time, however, his taste for indiscretion has provoked a general feeling of uneasiness mixed with indignation," it adds.

The regional Dernieres nouvelles d'Alsace says that in a single photo Prince Harry, has dealt a "death blow" to a reputation already tarnished by repeated indiscretions.

"This prank has landed a new blow to the reputation of the Windsors and is an opportunity for newspapers to recall the embarrassing ties of certain members of this family, of German origin, with the Nazi regime," it says.

In Russia, Novyye Izvestiya also believes the prince's gaffe "has dealt a harsh blow to the royal family's reputation".

Other Russian papers, however, offer a different gloss.

"The young prince," says Moskovskiy Komsomolets, "is unlikely to have any affinity with the ideas of national socialism: he is just plain silly."

Rossiyskaya Gazeta agrees.

"It looks as though one of the main heirs to the British throne is simply not used to engaging his brain cells", the paper suggests.

Holocaust

Reaction in the Israeli press has so far been sparse.

A commentary in Yediot Aharonot worries not so much about the prince's action as the underlying attitudes in British society.

"Prince Harry's foolish deed, no matter how repulsive, abhorrent and infuriating, is not the root of the problem. The root of the problem, or indeed the whole problem, is the fact that in a public opinion poll more than half the respondents believed no fuss should be made of the story," the paper says.

It argues that "if most respondents in Britain are not exercised by this", then they that have not learned the lesson of the Holocaust.

"And this only a few days before world leaders mark at Auschwitz the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the biggest extermination camp," the paper laments.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.




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