SCARY HARRY: The big royal news over the weekend was set to be Prince William’s proposal of marriage to longtime flame Kate Middleton. Last week bookmakers William Hill had even shortened the odds to 1-2 that the prince would put his girlfriend — and the rest of Britain — out of their misery and finally ask Middleton when she turned 27 on Friday. Instead, it was Prince Harry who stole the show — as he so often does. On Monday, the naughty redheaded prince got a whipping in the British press after racist comments he made in a 2006 home video surfaced in Sunday’s News of the World. In the video, filmed when Harry was at officer training school at Sandhurst, the prince refers to a Pakistani pal as “a little Paki friend” and tells another fellow soldier he resembles a “raghead.” He also pokes fun at his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, mimicking a telephone call in which he sends love to her corgis.
Clarence House issued a formal apology over the weekend, saying the prince did not intend any malice, but that didn’t stop the press — across the political spectrum — from letting loose. “The trouble with a hereditary monarchy is that you get what you’re given, a third-in-line of no great intellectual acuity,” cried left-leaning daily The Guardian. The conservative Daily Mail accused the prince of “incredible crassness,” while The Telegraph, another right-wing title, said the prince was showing “an unfortunate propensity” for finding himself in hot water due to inappropriate remarks or activities. Sound familiar? Harry is the grandson of none other than Britain’s reining monarch of gaffes, Prince Philip.
In the midst of the controversy, however, Harry has found a new supporter, another utterly divisive character who’s accustomed to making the odd gaffe himself: Prime Minister Gordon Brown. On Monday, Brown defended the prince and praised his military record. “I think the British people are good enough to give him the benefit of the doubt,” he said. Maybe, maybe not. — Samantha Conti