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Last Updated: Friday, 14 January, 2005, 12:41 GMT
Harry row: 'move on' says Duchess
Prince Harry
Prince Harry has earned a reputation as the 'party prince'
The Duchess of York has spoken out strongly in support of her nephew Prince Harry, after he wore a Nazi costume to a party.

"He's apologised and people have accepted his apology, and let's move on," she told the BBC's Today show.

The prince apologised in a statement after being photographed wearing the desert uniform and swastika armband.

But Tory leader Michael Howard and Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy have led calls for a personal public apology.

'Back off'

The Duchess told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It is time for the press to back off.

"I know what it is like to have very bad press and be continually criticised - it is very tiring and unpleasant."

The photograph, taken at a friend's birthday party in Wiltshire at the weekend, has prompted outrage from politicians and anti-fascist campaigners, who accused the prince of insensitivity.

Duchess of York
Both William and Harry are very good men. I think that their mother was very proud of them
Sarah Ferguson

Ms Ferguson said: "I want someone to stand up for him and say he is a very good man, and I'm that person.

"Both William and Harry are very good men. I think that their mother was very proud of them."

In his statement on Wednesday, 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."

The Queen's former assistant press secretary, Dickie Arbiter, said a personal apology was needed if Prince Harry wished to be considered an adult.

In flood-ravaged Carlisle on Friday for a visit, his father Prince Charles twice refused to comment on Prince Harry's conduct.

The Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, told BBC One's Question Time on Thursday: "He apologised straight away after the mistake became public. I think we should leave it at that.

"I think already he must understand what has happened and I think that should be the end of it."

A Clarence House spokesman said on Friday: "Prince Harry has apologised immediately and in a heartfelt fashion for making a very bad mistake. His apology has been accepted by a number of Jewish groups."

Auschwitz visit

The UK's Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said it was imperative that the lessons of the Holocaust and World War II were not only taught, but understood.

He went on to say that wearing a swastika was in extremely poor taste but added: "I note that Prince Harry has recognised this."

Some critics have said the prince should join a British delegation which is visiting the Auschwitz death camp for the 60th anniversary of its liberation later this month.

The Nazis' final assault on the Jews from 1933-1945
Estimated 15m civilians killed by regime
6m Jews murdered
1942: Gas chambers built at Birkenau concentration camp, mass transports begin
Majority who arrive gassed immediately
About 900,000 gassed at Birkenau
1.1m died at Auschwitz-Birkenau and its sub-camps
1m of them were Jewish

Prince Harry should see for himself "the results of the hated symbol he so foolishly and brazenly chose to wear", said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Referring to Prince Charles' reaction to the controversy, BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said: "It is safe to assume that any father, particularly this father, would be incensed.

"It would not be surprising if Prince Charles has come up with a programme of ideas to educate Harry."

Criticised abroad

Unusually, Prince Harry's actions have been criticised by foreign politicians.

Israel's foreign minister Silvan Shalom said the prince had been wrong to wear the costume and had a lot to learn.

And veteran forces sweetheart Vera Lynn added her voice to calls for him to visit a former death camp.

She said the prince was "typical of so many of the young people of today" who "just don't think". "Things are completely different from when I was young," she added.

It is the latest in a series of stories involving 20-year-old Prince Harry - who is third in line to the throne - which have earned him a media reputation as the "party prince".

If he can get away with behaviour like this and not apologise in person, what message does it send to other young people?
Meg, London

Prince Harry's costume gaffe has also prompted suggestions from some that he should not be allowed to enrol at Sandhurst military academy. The Ministry of Defence has said it will not affect his place.

Columnist and former Times editor Simon Jenkins said he believed the gaffe had been blown out of proportion.

He said the prince's actions were not important as he was third in line to a monarchy which lacked any real power.

Friday's Jewish Chronicle newspaper said that for a royal to think it a "lark to dress up in the trappings of a genocidal dictatorship" was "mind-boggling".

But the Board of Deputies of British Jews said while the costume was in bad taste, members were "pleased" Prince Harry had apologised in a statement.

Should Prince Harry make a personal public apology?


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