LONDON – Being the son of Princess Diana (search) buys some sympathy, but not enough to get away with wearing a Nazi uniform.
So Prince Harry (search) is learning, to immense royal embarrassment, after his party costume provoked outrage from Jewish groups and politicians.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center (search) urged the wayward 20-year-old to go to Auschwitz to atone; the leader of the opposition Conservative Party demanded a public apology, and another lawmedition was hitting the streets with a big headline — HARRY THE NAZI — and a picture of the young royal wearing a swastika armband.
The picture was snapped by a guest at a costume party on Saturday, and apparently sold to The Sun. "It was a poor choice of costume and I apologize," Harry said in a statement issued through the office of his father, Prince Charles.
Prince William reportedly was costumed as a leopard and lion for the "native and colonial" theme party at the home of Richard Meade, who won three gold medals in equestrian events at the 1968 and 1972 Olympics. One unidentified woman in the photo was dressed as an American Indian, while another was attired as a European peasant. A man wore what appeared to be an Arab headdress.
"I think a lot of people will be disappointed to see that photograph and it will cause a lot of offense," said Michael Howard, leader of Britain's main opposition Conservative Party.
"I think it might be appropriate for him to tell us himself just how contrite he now is," added Howard, who is Jewish.
Prime Minister Tony Blair sidestepped the furor. "Prince Harry has made it clear that he is very sorry about it. The rest of it is best to leave Buckingham Palace to comment on," he told BBC radio.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles expressed outrage.
"We strongly urge Prince Harry to accompany the British delegation on Jan. 27 to the Auschwitz death camp to commemorate 60 years since liberation," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the center. "There he will see the results of the hated symbol he so foolishly and brazenly chose to wear."
However, a spokesman at Clarence House, Prince Charles' London residence, said sending Harry to the ceremonies at Auschwitz "is not something we would be considering."
"Basically we felt that the prince's apology last evening was very comprehensive and extensive," said a spokesman.
Doug Henderson, a legislator and former defense ministry official, said Harry was unfit to take his place at Sandhurst, the military academy.
But Janner said: "I would send him in the army as fast as possible. I hope that would teach him not to behave like that."
The action also upset many Israelis.
Vice Premier Shimon Peres called it "very bizarre."
"Well, the next time he will dress up and behave like a prince," Peres said.
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said: "The use of Nazi symbols is always intolerable ... especially now that we are marking the 60th anniversary of the release from the death camps."
The incident secured Harry's place as the current buffoon in the long-running royal soap opera.
In October, Harry got into a fist-fight with a photographer outside a nightclub. Before that, a former art teacher at Eton claimed she had helped Harry cheat on an exam — a charge rejected by a tribunal. And in 2002, Charles made Harry spend a day at a drug rehabilitation center after he was caught smoking marijuana and indulging in underage drinking.
Charles himself has served his time as most disgraceful royal; so has Harry's outspoken grandfather Prince Philip, his uncles Prince Andrew and Prince Edward and their wives, and his aunt, Princess Anne.
But none made the mistake of trampling on sensitivities about World War II and the Holocaust, still vivid issues in Britain even as audiences roar at dancing Nazis in Mel Brooks' musical version of "The Producers" in London's West End.
"This incident serves as another reminder, if one were needed, of the importance for Holocaust education, particularly amongst the young," said Stephen Smith, who heads the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, which organizes British commemorations of the Jan. 27 anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps.
Harry's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, will mark the day by holding a reception at St. James' Palace for death camp survivors and some of the British soldiers who liberated them.