LONDON – Prince Charles (search) "hit the roof" after his son, Prince Harry (search), showed up at a costume party wearing a swastika armband and ordered him and his brother to visit the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, the Sun newspaper reported Friday.
A royal official, however, said only that Prince Harry was considering invitations from Jewish groups to visit Auschwitz (search), where millions perished in gas chambers or died of starvation and disease.
The invitations "will be given due consideration, but there are no plans at the moment," a spokeswoman at the office of Prince Charles said on condition of anonymity.
The spokeswoman stressed that Harry would not attend ceremonies on Jan. 27 commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex in Poland, although the Simon Wiesenthal Center (search) had urged him to do so.
Charles, inspecting flood damage in the northwestern English city of Carlisle, was twice asked about Harry's costume but he didn't respond.
The Sun newspaper, which broke the story of Harry in his Nazi costume, said Prince Charles also was upset that Prince William, who also was at the party, did not warn his younger brother against wearing the costume.
"Last night Charles ordered both boys to privately visit the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz to learn the full horror of Hitler's holocaust. And he has told them to watch the move 'Schindler's List,"' The Sun said.
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 young royal in a Nazi uniform on its front page Thursday.
Former Buckingham Palace spokesman Dickie Arbiter also said the princes would probably visit Auschwitz, but not for the 60th anniversary commemorations.
"The likelihood is that both William and Harry could visit a concentration camp in the not too distant future," he told NBC's "Today" show.
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.
"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 Usama 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.
"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 picture was snapped by a guest at a costume party on Saturday, and apparently sold to The Sun.
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. Harry, who plans to enroll this year at a military college, has long been known as the wilder of Charles and Princess Diana's two handsome sons, in contrast to his university-student brother, Prince William, 22.
In October, Harry got into a fistfight 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.