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Duchess: Prince 'deserves a break'


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England's Prince Harry apologizes for wearing a Nazi uniform to a party after it became front-page news in The Sun newspaper.
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(CNN) -- Britain's Prince Harry "deserves a break" after his apology for wearing a Nazi uniform to a costume party, his aunt, the Duchess of York, has told CNN.

Harry, third in line for the British throne, was pictured on the front page of Thursday editions of Britain's The Sun newspaper wearing a swastika on his sleeve at the party. The 20-year-old was also holding a drink and smoking a cigarette.

"The thing is that sometimes we all do things where the ramifications of our actions are perhaps afterthoughts," the duchess -- Sarah Ferguson -- said on "American Morning."

"It's all very well to come down hard on him, but he's been through a lot, and I fully support him 100 percent.

"I hope the world accepts his apology," she said. "He deserves a break, really."

The Sun released its front page Wednesday night to media outlets, and the Clarence House press office released Harry's apology shortly afterwards. In it, the prince said he was "very sorry if I caused any offense or embarrassment to anyone.

"It was a poor choice of costume and I apologize," the statement said. (Full story)

Ferguson, who is divorced from Prince Andrew -- brother of Harry's father, Prince Charles -- said her nephew is "a great, great boy" and "first rate."

"His mum (the late Princess Diana) would be so proud of him," she said. "I know what it's like to have bad press. I had it for quite a long time. ... The thing is: He's apologized."

Not everyone was as forgiving. Former Buckingham Palace press officer Dickie Arbiter told CNN Harry's choice of costume would be "very much an embarrassment to his father."

"He should have realized that wearing Nazi uniform as member of royal family is just not a starter," said Arbiter, who also said a written apology was "not enough" and Harry should "come up front."

"He needs a good dose of army discipline given by people he doesn't know ... and perhaps then grow up."

Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles said it was "inexcusable for a member of the royal family to do that" and called Harry's action "a disgrace to England."

"I think he should join the British delegation that is going to 60th anniversary of the liberation of (the concentration camp) Auschwitz," he told CNN.

"He should be part of delegation and stand in silence. And that would transmit to world that he gets it."

Robert Rozett, director of the library at Jerusalem's Holocaust Museum, appeared more disappointed than angry about the royal flap and said he was happy Harry had quickly apologized.

"Of course, the Holocaust is representative of man's greatest evil and collapse of morality in human civilization," Rozett told CNN, "so when Prince Harry wears it ... it indicates the lessons of the Holocaust have not entered into his understanding or consciousness.

"We would hope that figures like Prince Harry would be more sensitive and not trivialize it. ... We would suggest that Harry and others would do well to learn more about the subject, be more careful about how they use the subject in public."

Some on the streets of London, though, agreed with Harry's aunt.

"I like the lad, and I think people tend to batten down on to him. It's not fair really," one woman said.

"I think if I was Jewish, I might feel a bit upset about the fact, but all the same, people need to take in the context it's in, and he obviously didn't mean anything by it."

The Nazis murdered 6 million Jews and millions of others including Poles, homosexuals, Soviet prisoners and Gypsies. Millions more were imprisoned or forced to work as slaves.

Harry's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, is commemorating the 60th anniversary that day by inviting Nazi death camp survivors and British veterans who freed them to a reception at St. James's Palace.

She also will attend a Holocaust Memorial Day national commemoration at London's Westminster Hall with her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

The Sun said Harry wore the desert uniform of Gen. Erwin Rommel's German Afrika Korps to a party in Wiltshire, west of London, on Saturday.

The photo shows him wearing a swastika armband and a badge of the German Wehrmacht, or defense force, on his collar.

It's not the first time Harry has been in the public eye with a not-so-royal sheen.

Three years ago, his father Charles sent the 17-year-old Eton student to a rehabilitation clinic to warn him of the dangers of drugs after discovering he had smoked marijuana and allegedly drank alcohol.

Harry is in line to the British throne after his father and his older brother, Prince William.


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