Prince Harry receives an apology from BBC for publishing ‘race traitor’ image that depicted his assassination

The BBC has apologized to Prince Harry after the taxpayer-funded network published an image from a neo-Nazi social media group that labeled the royal a “race traitor” for his marriage to Meghan Markle.

The Guardian reported on Wednesday that the image, which was broadcast and published online in December of last year, depicted the 35-year-old with a gun pointed at his head and included blood splatter and a swastika. The image was captioned: “See ya later race traitor. #racetraitor."

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A spokesman for the Duke of Sussex told the outlet that the image raised “serious security concerns” for Harry and “caused his family great distress specifically while his wife was nearly five months pregnant.”

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry greet the press as they debut Baby Sussex. The couple met reporters at Windsor Castle, where they also met with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry greet the press as they debut Baby Sussex. The couple met reporters at Windsor Castle, where they also met with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. (Getty)

Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, gave birth to their son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, on May 6.

According to the outlet, both the BBC and the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom rejected a complaint by Harry, ruling that the use of the image in a report about the activities of the far-right platform was in public interest. However, The Guardian noted the BBC has apologized for not warning the royal couple ahead of the publication.

The corporation admitted that “before publishing seriously offensive material we need to be vigilant in balancing the impact on individuals against the wider good which may be served by publication.”

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Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and attends a Commonwealth Day Youth Event at Canada House with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on March 11, 2019, in London, England. The event will showcase and celebrate the diverse community of young Canadians living in London and around the UK.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and attends a Commonwealth Day Youth Event at Canada House with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on March 11, 2019, in London, England. The event will showcase and celebrate the diverse community of young Canadians living in London and around the UK. (Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

In a letter to Harry, the BBC also revealed it was committed to strengthening its guidance on the use of content that poses risks to the individual portrayed.

“His Royal Highness welcomes the letter from the BBC relating to the shocking image published by BBC News last year as part of a report on the activities of a British neo-Nazi group with links in the US,” said Harry’s spokesperson.

“His Royal Highness raised the issue with Ofcom about the rebroadcasting of this racist image due to his concerns that hateful and dangerous propaganda had been spread globally by the world’s most important public service broadcaster. Due to the credibility of the BBC, their choice to publicize this material created an open door for all other media to reproduce it.”

While Harry accepted the BBC’s apology, he still did not agree with the broadcaster’s decision to share the image in question.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images) (Getty)

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“His Royal Highness maintains that instead of reproducing the image and giving a platform to something that would have only been seen by a few, it should have been described so that others would not potentially be influenced by such an inflammatory image,” said the spokesperson.

The outlet noted that Harry was the only person to complain to Ofcom about the issue.

He complained to the BBC that publishing the image fell “below the generally accepted standards as to harmful and offensive material” and there was insufficient justification to showcase the collage to begin with, given that it was created by a group encouraging criminal action.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in Fiji in October 2018.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in Fiji in October 2018. (Getty)

The Guardian shared the BBC did not uphold the complaint, insisting publishing the image was in the public interest. Ofcom also did not uphold the complaint, ruling there was “clear public interest” in conveying “clearly and impactfully the offensive nature of the group’s messages” and therefore it was editorially justified.

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“This image was highly offensive, but in our opinion, its inclusion in the article was editorially justified as it was used to condemn and illustrate the racist group’s activities, which was in the public interest,” said an Ofcom spokesperson.

“This was an important piece of journalism which led to the arrest, conviction and imprisonment of two members of a neo-Nazi group,” said a BBC source. “The image of the Duke of Sussex was included to show the abhorrent nature of their behavior and Ofcom has subsequently concluded that there was a clear editorial rationale for using the image which, in the context of the news report, was considered unlikely to incite crime.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at their royal wedding in May 2018.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at their royal wedding in May 2018. (AP)

“Naturally, we regret the distress caused and we apologized for failing to warn Kensington Palace in advance that it was to be published,” added the source.

Harry later expressed his concerns with Tony Hall, BBC’s general director.

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Back in June, The Guardian reported Michal Szewczuk, who created the image, was sentenced to four years and three months in “a young offender institution” after pleading guilty to two counts of encouraging terrorism and five counts of possession of terrorist material, including the White Resister Manual and an al-Qaida training manual.

Actress-turned-royal Meghan Markle captivated the world when she married Prince Harry in May.

Actress-turned-royal Meghan Markle captivated the world when she married Prince Harry in May. (AP)

The 19-year-old originally posted the image on social media in August last year, a few months after Harry married Markle, 38, in May 2018.

Szewczuk also wrote a blog posted that was described as “extremely violent and aggressively misogynistic” and attempted to “justify the rape of women and children in pursuit of an Aryan race.”

“The posts I have seen and read are abhorrent as well as criminal by reason of their clear intention to encourage terrorist acts,” Judge Rebecca Poulet QC said at the time. “Individuals were urged to go out and commit appalling acts of violence on others for no reason that can ever be understood by any right-thinking individuals.”

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend an official photocall to announce their engagement at The Sunken Gardens at Kensington Palace on November 27, 2017, in London, England. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been a couple officially since November 2016 and are due to marry in Spring 2018.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend an official photocall to announce their engagement at The Sunken Gardens at Kensington Palace on November 27, 2017, in London, England. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been a couple officially since November 2016 and are due to marry in Spring 2018. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage/Getty)

This isn’t the first time Harry has spoken out on racism concerning his relationship with the former American actress.

In November 2016, after his relationship to the “Suits” star became public, he released a statement where he condemned “racial overtones” in media reports.