Prince Harry’s Nazi fancy-dress uniform complete with swastika armband sparked international outrage tonight amid calls for him to apologise in public for his “shameful” antics.
The Israeli foreign minister and the EU’s foreign policy chief joined the throng of anti-facist groups, Jewish human rights organisations and politicians who rounded on the 20-year-old royal.
Calls were made for the third in line to the throne to cancel his plans to join the Army following his “totally inappropriate” decision to wear the Nazi soldier outfit with a swastika emblazoned on his arm.
The furore is the latest in a long line of troubles for Harry. He scuffled with a paparazzi photographer in October and three years ago was exposed as having smoked cannabis.
A picture of the young royal at a party dressed in Nazi regalia including a badge of the German Wehrmacht was published on the front page of The Sun.
Clarence House swiftly issued a written statement from the Prince late last night in which he apologised for any offence.
Israeli foreign minister Silvan Shalom was among those who criticised him, describing the use of Nazi symbols as intolerable.
“I think anybody who tries to pass it off as bad taste must be made aware that this can encourage others to think that perhaps that period was not as bad as we teach the young generation in the free world,” he said.
EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana said: “It’s not an appropriate thing to do.”
Tory leader Michael Howard said Harry should appear in person to “tell us just how contrite he now is”.
But Andy Pike, from Unite Against Fascism, called for the Prince to do more than say sorry.
“We don’t think that (an apology) is enough. We would like to see Harry distance himself from Nazi ideas of white supremacy, anti-semitism and racism because he is a very influential figure,” he said.
The Anti Nazi League described his choice of outfit as “grossly insensitive to the many millions of people whose family members were slaughtered in the Nazis Holocaust”.
In a statement last night, Harry said: “I am very sorry if I caused any offence or embarrassment to anyone. It was a poor choice of costume and I apologise.”
Clarence House said there were no plans for him to say anything further.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, one of the largest international Jewish human rights groups, urged him to visit Auschwitz death camp to see the full horrors of the Nazi regime.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the centre, added: “This was a shameful act displaying insensitivity for the victims, not just for those soldiers of his own country who gave their lives to defeat Nazism, but to the victims of the Holocaust who were the principal victims of the Nazis.”
He suggested that Harry should accompany his uncle, the Earl of Wessex, who is travelling to the camp on January 27 to commemorate 60 years since the liberation of Auschwitz.
On the same day, Harry’s grandmother the Queen will mark the Holocaust by holding a reception for Nazi death camp survivors and by attending a Holocaust Memorial Day national commemoration at London’s Westminster Hall.
Challenged during an interview with BBC Radio Kent on whether Harry should make a public apology, Prime Minister Tony Blair said: “Prince Harry has made it clear he is very sorry about it, and I think the rest of it is best to leave to Buckingham Palace to comment on.
“I would prefer to leave it like that.”
Labour backbencher and former armed forces minister Doug Henderson argued that the incident demonstrated that Harry was unfit to go to Sandhurst and called for the Prince to withdraw his application.
“I don’t think this young man is suitable for Sandhurst,” he said.
A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said the incident would not affect Harry’s place at the military academy, which he expected to take up in May.
Lord Janner, a former Labour MP and one-time president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, declared that the Prince’s action were “totally wrong and totally inappropriate”.
He said: “I think he should be disciplined. He should understand what he has done and why it is so offensive.”
Harry’s aunt the Duchess of York called for the world to accept his apology.
According to CNN, she said on America Morning: “The thing is that sometimes we all do things where the ramifications of our actions are perhaps afterthoughts.”
She added: “He deserves a break, really.”
A leader comment in tomorrow’s edition of the Jewish Chronicle also blasted the ex-Eton student, who is on an extended gap year.
“For a member of the royal family to conclude that it might be a nice lark to dress up in the trappings of a genocidal dictatorship whom his own brave elders helped, at huge cost, to defeat six decades ago was nothing short of mind-boggling.”
Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, a spokesman for the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain, was more understanding.
“The fact that the palace has issued an apology indicates that this was a mistake by the Prince. But having being given, the apology should now be accepted,” he said.
Harry in a beige shirt, trousers and Nazi insignia – the desert uniform of Rommel’s German Afrika Korps – was among 250 guests at the fancy-dress party last Saturday in Wiltshire for friend Harry Meade’s 22nd birthday.
Older brother William was also said to have attended, dressed in a home-made lion and leopard outfit to fit the theme of Native and Colonial.
Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy told the BBC Radio 4 PM programme: “Prince Harry is in a very privileged position and I think he has let himself down and a lot of other people down and caused offence by what he did.
“I think that he has proved himself recently to be adept and articulate on television.
“Given the great reservoir of goodwill for himself and his brother, because of the loss of their mother, that there is in this country, he should bring himself forward in a public way, just to make that apology all the more personal.
“There is that reservoir of goodwill for Prince William and Prince Harry in this country, but I think he needs to remember it can’t last forever."