MONTAGE OF NATIONAL NEWSPAPERS
Dave Caulkin  /  AP
A montage of British national newspapers on Friday display reaction to Britain's Prince Harry wearing a swastika armband to a private party.
msnbc.com news services
updated 1/14/2005 10:01:54 AM ET 2005-01-14T15:01:54

Prince Harry, who provoked outrage by wearing a swastika armband to a private party, is considering invitations from Jewish groups to visit the Auschwitz death camp, a royal official said Friday.

The invitations “will be given due consideration, but there are no plans at the moment,” said a spokeswoman at the office of Harry’s father, Prince Charles.

The official statement followed a Sun newspaper report saying heir-to-the-throne Charles was “incandescent with rage” with the 20-year-old grandson of Queen Elizabeth and ordered him to make a private trip to the concentration camp to learn more about the Holocaust.

The spokeswoman stressed that Harry would not attend ceremonies on Jan. 27 commemorating the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex, although the Simon Wiesenthal Foundation had urged him to do so.

Harry swiftly apologized for “a poor choice of costume” after royal officials learned that The Sun newspaper was about to print a picture of the prince in a Nazi uniform on its front page Thursday.

'No publicity'
The Sun, which broke the Nazi gaffe story on Thursday, quoted Friday an unnamed royal source as saying that Prince Charles also told his older son, William, to travel with Harry to Auschwitz.

“There will be no publicity and they will go with a Jewish charity,” the source was quoted as saying in the Sun.

“Their father has visited Auschwitz himself and believes Harry and William would both benefit by grasping a greater understanding of the horrors by actually visiting.”

The paper said William, 22, accepted part of the blame because he was present when Harry picked the Nazi costume in a hire shop before the private party in southwest England.

A royal spokesman said he would not comment on any private conversations between Prince Charles and his sons, adding, “We wouldn’t rule it out, we wouldn’t rule it in.”

Harry’s behavior drew a storm of protest from around the world, coming two weeks before the Jan. 27 events to commemorate 60 years since the liberation of Auschwitz.

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.

Amid furor, some come to Harry's defense
The furor rumbled on Friday, with more caustic remarks about Harry’s intelligence and sensitivity. But some commentators, pleading that the prince was just a 20-year-old trying to live a normal life, contended that the fuss was overblown.

Video: “I want someone to stand up for him and say he is a very good man, and I’m that person,” Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, told British Broadcasting Corp. radio. “Because I know what it is like to have a very bad press and to be continually criticized. It is very tiring and it is very unpleasant.”

The duchess, who is divorced from Prince Andrew, was frequently criticized in the press for her fashion sense and her battles with being overweight, and she was famously photographed cavorting topless with an American lover.

Aaron Barschak, the self-styled “comedy terrorist” who dressed up as Osama bin Laden and gatecrashed Prince William’s 21st birthday party, defended Harry.

“Your 20s are the time to do stupid things and get them out of your system,” Barschak wrote in The Guardian, “Otherwise you keep everything inside of yourself and end up being arrested for gatecrashing a royal party dressed as the world’s most wanted terrorist in your mid-30s.”

But that seemed to be the minority view.

'Stupid young man'
“All these excuses boil down to one: that Prince Harry is a stupid young man, who meant no harm. That is what I would like very much to believe,” Tom Utley wrote in The Daily Telegraph. “But if it is true, then we are not talking about an average level of stupidity. We are talking about stupidity on an absolutely monumental scale.”

The Guardian’s editorial commented: “Prince Harry seems less interested in preparing for a life of royal service than auditioning for the role of village idiot in Poundbury, his father’s nostalgic recreation of a kinder time and place, where one could throw a ’native and colonials’ party without anyone batting an eyelid.”

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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