Prince William gets backlash for saying war in Europe is ‘alien,’ unlike in Africa or Asia

By | March 10, 2022

“We are all behind you,” he reportedly said, expressing support for the people of Ukraine, who have been subjected to widespread bombings by Russia during its invasion of their country.

The prince, second in line to the throne of a country with a long colonial history, received swift backlash online, as many pointed out that his ancestors were responsible for conflicts on the continents he mentioned.

“The war and bloodshed were initiated by his family,” tweeted Snehesh Alex Philip, an editor at the Print, an Indian news site. “In India, they looted and plundered even as [many people] died of famine and their torture. The subcontinent still faces violence thanks to the seed they sowed before leaving,” he wroteadding, “Such a racist comment by Prince William.”

CNN anchor Jake Tapper tweeted, “Read a book about your own family, dude,” and attached an image of Edward, the Duke of Windsor, and his wife, Wallis Simpson, meeting with Adolf Hitler in Germany in 1937. (According to a 2016 BBC report, the visit was not an endorsement of the Nazi regime, an aide to the duke said years later, but rather served as a chance for Simpson to experience a state trip.)

Bernice King, daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and chief executive of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, called William’s remark “horrific.”

“European people ran roughshod over the continent of Africa, pillaging communities, raping women, enslaving human beings, colonizing for profit and power, stealing resources, causing generational devastation,” she wrote on Twitter. “And European nations continue to harm Africa.”

AJ+ journalist Sana Saeed wrote: “I really don’t expect any less from a member of one of the most violent empires in modern human history that has yet to face a day of justice for its crimes against millions of people.”

Robert Jobson, royal editor at the London Evening Standard, told The Washington Post on Thursday that he was confident William’s statement “has been taken out of context.” Jobson described William as “an educated man,” adding: “I am sure he didn’t mean it to be racist.”

Jobson noted that “to have a war in Europe to most Europeans is unfamiliar and deeply troubling,” he said.

“Perhaps he was simply trying to say, albeit clumsily, that this war in Ukraine feels very close to home, as he was only a small child when the Bosnia conflict started and this is perhaps his first experience of such terrible conflict happening in Europe during his adulthood.”

Kensington Palace did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Allegations of racism within Britain’s royal family circulated globally last year after Prince Harry and Meghan gave an explosive interview to Oprah Winfrey in which they claimed that before their son, Archie, was born, the palace held “conversations” about “how dark his skin might be.”

Winfrey later said Harry told her it was not Queen Elizabeth II or her husband, Prince Philip, who raised the question about the child’s skin tone, but the allegation stunned viewers and prompted the queen to issue a rare personal statement regarding the family divisions.

“The whole family was saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan,” she said, adding that “the issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning.”

Following the interview, William was asked about the claims.

William and Harry’s late grandfather, Philip, frequently came under fire for racist remarks that stunned onlookers. “If you stay here much longer you’ll all be slitty-eyed,” he said to a group of students during a visit to China in 1986. In 2002, he asked an Aborigin in Australia if they were “still throwing spears.”

Prince Charles, William and Harry’s father and heir to the throne, has also faced criticism over remarks on race.

William has not been the only high-profile figure to make such a gaffe since the start of the war in Ukraine. CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata said in a report from Kyiv that Ukraine was not “a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilized, relatively European — I have to choose my words carefully, too — city, one where you wouldn’t expect that, or hope that it’s going to happen.”

A reporter for the British news broadcaster ITV, Lucy Watson, said “now the unthinkable has happened” in Ukraine.

“And this is not a developing, Third World nation,” she said. “This is Europe.”

Ukraine ranks 74 on the UN Human Development Index — which measures life expectancy, education and economic well-being — below the African and Asian countries of Iran, Mauritius and Sri Lanka.

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