Sunday, January 16, 2005

Report: UK's Charles Orders Sons to Visit Auschwitz

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Prince William has been ordered to join his tearaway younger brother Harry on a private visit to Auschwitz, a newspaper reported on Friday, as a scandal over Nazi regalia engulfed the two young royals.

Harry, 20, provoked outrage this week when photos of him wearing a swastika at a costume party appeared in the Sun newspaper.

But William, 22, second in line to the throne, was at the same party and even, according to the paper, went along to help his brother choose the Nazi outfit.

Now their father, Prince Charles, wants the pair to make a private visit to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in Poland to atone for the mistake, according to the Sun.

A spokesman for Charles declined to comment on the report.

But royal sources refused to rule out the possibility of a trip, saying only that the pair would not join a British delegation at Jan. 27 events to commemorate 60 years since the liberation of Auschwitz.

The Sun reported the princes would visit the camp in the near future with a Jewish charity.

The royal sources said while no such visit was being planned at present, any trip to Auschwitz would be private.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews said it had not been contacted by the royal family, but welcomed the prospect of a visit. "In light of this event we'd welcome Prince Harry to show he is prepared to embrace education about the Holocaust," a spokesman said.

The Nazis murdered six million Jews and millions of others including Poles, homosexuals, Soviet prisoners and Gypsies. Millions more were imprisoned or forced to work as slaves.

Harry, younger son of Charles and the late Princess Diana, said in a statement he was sorry if he had caused any offence over his "poor choice" of costume, but politicians have called for him to make a public apology.

Both princes were roasted by Charles but royal sources said their father thinks Harry's written apology was sufficient.

Unlike the gaffe-prone Harry, William rarely puts a foot wrong and is immensely popular in Britain.


British and world media have rounded on Harry.

The Australian newspaper carried the headline "Heil Harry: prince goose-steps out of line," while "Royal Nazi" was splashed across the front page of the New York Post.

Germany's top-selling Bild daily wondered what Diana would have said.

One of the paper's columnists had harsh words for the prince: "You, third in line for the throne, hip and cool with a swastika on your arm at your party, you make me sick to my stomach as though I'd eaten rotten food. You make me spew."

In Britain the Daily Mail demanded in a huge page one headline "Come out and say sorry properly," while the tabloid Daily Star branded Harry "The Fool in the Crown."

The voice of the establishment, The Times, dismissed his apology as "feeble" and said he had fallen in with "a dubious group of self-indulgent young men who are apparently content with a life of pointless privilege."

But Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson, who herself has been relentlessly criticized in British media, defended her nephew, calling him "a very good man."

The Sun said the scandal could have been much worse. It said Harry had almost picked the black uniform of Hitler's SS -- the brutal troops who ran the concentration camps.


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