The BBC has issued an apology after failing to warn the Duke of Sussex before broadcasting an image from a neo-Nazi social media group that called him a “race traitor”.
The controversial picture depicted Prince Harry with a gun pointed at his head alongside the words: “See ya later race traitor #racetraitor”. The racist propaganda was later published on the BBC website and also broadcast on News at Ten.
According to The Guardian, the imagery sparked “serious security concerns” for the Duke of Sussex and “caused his family great distress specifically while his wife was nearly five months pregnant”.
Despite a complaint from Kensington Palace, the BBC and Ofcom initially defended the decision to share the imagery, citing the report as a matter of public interest.
Now the BBC has reportedly apologised to Prince Harry in a letter that recognises 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”.
Prince Harry’s spokesperson told told The Guardian, “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.”
“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,” the royal spokesperson continued.
“Due to the credibility of the BBC, their choice to publicise this material created an open door for all other media to reproduce it.”
Although the 35-year-old accepted the BBC’s apology, he does not agree with the decision to share the image.
“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,” the spokesperson added.
Following the BBC report, 19-year-old Michal Szewczuk, who was behind 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.
It’s not the first time Prince Harry has spoken out against racism prevalent in the media.
Kensington Palace has issued a statement this morning about the harassment currently being experienced by Meghan Markle and her family. pic.twitter.com/EuFZ4fmUIj
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) November 8, 2016
When news of his relationship with Meghan Markle first emerged, he criticised the “wave of abuse and harassment” in a rare statement from Kensington Palace.
“Some of this has been very public – the smear on the front page of a national newspaper, the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments,” the statement read.
“Naturally we regret the distress caused and we apologised for failing to warn Kensington Palace in advance that it was to be published,” the BBC concluded.