With Prince Harry’s nude Las Vegas stint all over celebrity news, I think it’s safe to say that we can expect a public apology from the Prince and Clarence House in the near future. But even though Harry has a history of missteps in the spotlight, he’s not the only member of the British Royal Family who has had to make formal apologies before. Long before Prince Harry’s nude photos hit the Internet, his ancestors made the news for less-than-appealing reasons, as well. Below, we have some of the silliest— and more serious— situations that the UK’s most famous family has had to apologize for.
In 1999, it was Prince Harry’s grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, who had to make a formal statement apologizing to the public for a careless choice of words, according to BBC News. It was during a tour of a high-tech electronics company on the outskirts of Edinburgh that Prince Philip, who has been accused of insensitivity in the past, made a comment about a fuse box that looked less sophisticated than the other state-of-the art equipment in the plant. “It looks as though it was put in by an Indian,” Prince Philip said. The comment understandably sparked outrage by race campaigners and disappointment from several others.
While the secretary of the Islamic Centre in Glasgow publicly defended the Duke, noting that he had been complimentary to the group in the past, most were amazed that an individual in such an influential position had made such an insensitive remark. It seems Prince Philip— or perhaps the Palace— realized quickly how inappropriate the Duke’s comment was, prompting a Buckingham Palace spokesman to release the following statement the same day that the statement was made: “The Duke of Edinburgh regrets any offence which may have been caused by remarks he is reported as making earlier today. With hindsight he accepts that what were intended as light-hearted comments were inappropriate.”
In lighter news, it was the Queen herself that caused a fuss with one adamant British citizen in 1999. Catherine Masters, then 109 years old, was upset with the Queen for having sent her the same birthday card three years in a row, reported ABC News. Per British custom, if one lives to 105, the Queen sends a yearly greeting to the individual. Though the cards and pictures are changed every few years, Masters received a card with the Queen in a purple dress on her 105th birthday, but had received the same card with the Queen dressed in yellow every year after that.
In hopes of making sure she would receive a different card for her 110th birthday, the fed-up Masters wrote a complaint to the Queen — and received an unexpected response, to say the least. Prince William himself showed up at Master’s nursing home to offer a Royal apology on behalf of his grandmother, in person. With the added bonus of an invitation to a garden party at Buckingham Palace that same summer, the centenarian accepted the apology with ease.
But the Queen had to make a more serious apology again in 2009 when it was discovered that her shop at Sandringham was selling golliwogs, according to the Daily Mail. The dolls made from the fictional black character in children’s books from the late 19th Century became a racist and anti-black caricature in the 1980s due to its black skin, big lips, and frizzy hair— though it was being sold at the gift shop on the Queen’s Norfolk estate for more than a year at £9.99 each before it was pulled from the shelves.
Buckingham Palace issued an apology following the incident in a statement that read, “The management of the shop have said they did not intend to offend anyone by selling this product and have apologized if any offence has been caused. The shop will immediately review its purchasing policy.” A palace source added that “the Queen wouldn’t tolerate any kind of racism. She has worked tirelessly to improve race relations in [the] country for many, many years,” noting that while the Queen and her husband are involved in every aspect of the running of Sandringham, the Queen is not personally involved in choosing the stock sold in her shop.
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