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Tuesday, August 10, 1999 Published at 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK


Royal apology for race remark

Prince Philip's comments have been condemned

Buckingham Palace has apologised for an off-the-cuff remark made by the Duke of Edinburgh which has angered race campaigners.

Kumar Murshid of the National Assembly Against Racism: "This is very serious"
Prince Philip, who has been accused of insensitivity in the past, was touring a high-tech electronics company when he spotted a fuse box which looked less sophisticated than other state of the art equipment in the plant.

"It looks as though it was put in by an Indian," he said.

Kumar Murshid, chairman of the National Assembly Against Racism, said he was amazed that a man in the Duke's position of influence had said such a thing.

[ image: Prince Philip made his remarks in Edinburgh]
Prince Philip made his remarks in Edinburgh
"This sort of thing is of great concern to us because people look up to the Royal Family and expect them to set an example to the public," he told BBC News 24.

"The reality is that they still have considerable influence, so it is absolutely abysmal and disgraceful for him to say such a thing."

And a spokeswoman for the Commission for Racial Equality described the Duke's comment as "very unfortunate".

Mirror Royal Correspondent James Whittaker: "It was a daft remark"
"We look to the Royal Family to be positively promoting racial equality," he said.

But Dr Shanfi Kauser, Secretary of the Islamic Centre in Glasgow, sprang to the Duke's defence.

He said: "He is a nice man and I don't think he has done anything out of malice. I believe he has not done anything wrong.

"On other occasions he has been very complimentary to us. We should not bring him into a dispute. I think he should be excused."

The 77-year-old Duke made the comment when he was touring a Racal-MESL factory on the outskirts of Edinburgh. He was there to unveil an award for the company's rail safety technology.


A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "The Duke of Edinburgh regrets any offence which may have been caused by remarks he is reported as making earlier today (Friday)."

The BBC's Clarence Mitchell reports: "The response from Buckingham Palace was quick, brief and to the point"
He added: "With hindsight he accepts that what were intended as light-hearted comments were inappropriate."

The Duke has made a number of comments which have caused offence in the past.

Most recently he upset a group of deaf youngsters when he joked that they were deafened by standing too close to loud music playing at a celebration in Cardiff.

"Deaf? If you are near there (the music), no wonder you are deaf," he told them.

Members of the British Deaf Association said they were "shocked and insulted" by the Duke's remarks.

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