UK PM says prince's "Paki" remark unacceptable

Mon Jan 12, 2009 5:24am EST
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LONDON - Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Monday added his voice to those condemning Prince Harry for calling an Asian army colleague a "Paki" but said the royal's apology was genuine and should be accepted.

The 24-year-old prince issued an apology after his remarks, captured on a video made in 2006, were published on the News of the World website. He said the comments were made without any racist malice intended.

"I think Prince Harry knows these comments were unacceptable," Brown told GMTV, saying the sincerity of the apology could not be doubted.

"I think the British people are good enough to give someone who has actually been a role model for young people and has done well fighting for our country, gone into very difficult situations with bravery, I think they will give him the benefit of the doubt."

Harry is set to face an Army inquiry and Brown said the prince would be meeting his commanding officer soon to discuss the comments.

"The Army is going to investigate it and hopefully he will be given the appropriate penalty," Keith Vaz, chairman of the House of Commons Home Affairs committee, told BBC radio.

"What is important is does it reveal a wider culture within the army where words of this kind are acceptable. Is this an explanation as to why we have so few ethnic minority people prepared to join institutions like the army?"

In some of the footage on the homemade video, Harry -- third in line to the throne -- is behind the camera and can he heard making a mock commentary.

"Anyone else here ... ah, our little Paki friend ... Ahmed," Harry says as he zooms onto the face of Asian officer cadet Ahmed Raza Khan while waiting at an airport to fly to Cyprus.   Continued...

<p>Britain's Prince Harry listens as his brother Prince William (not pictured) delivers a speech in west London, January 8, 2009. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>