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British royal defends comments on colonialism

  • Story Highlights
  • Prince told newspaper that U.S. leaders "might learn from our experiences"
  • He says he did not consider those comments controversial when he made them
  • Prince Andrew: "I've got a thick skin"
  • He says Britain and the U.S. are working much closer together than in the past
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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Britain's Prince Andrew on Wednesday defended comments he made suggesting the United States might have been better off had its leaders learned from the British experience with colonialism before invading Iraq.

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Prince Andrew says he has accepted that his comments could be interpreted as controversial.

"The fact is that we have learned, sometimes at our expense, in the years when we were a colonial power," he told CNN.

"So there may or may not have been things and ideas that were of valid use to what was going on at that particular time."

The 47-year-old prince, in Atlanta on a 10-day U.S. tour to promote British business, said the two countries are closely allied.

"We've been allies, for goodness' sake, for how long?" he said. Video Watch him discuss his new role »

"We are now working very much more closely together than we have over the centuries, apart from when we were very, very close during the second World War."

The Duke of York cited U.S.-British anti-terrorism efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan as an area where the two countries are working together to promote stability and change.

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The New York Times last week quoted the prince as saying there are "occasions when people in the U.K. would wish that those in responsible positions in the U.S. might listen and learn from our experiences."

He added, "If you are looking at colonialism, if you are looking at operations on an international scale, if you are looking at understanding each other's culture, understanding how to operate in a military insurgency campaign -- we have been through them all."

The problems faced by U.S. war planners in Iraq have bred "healthy skepticism" toward what comes out of Washington, he told the newspaper.

In his CNN interview Wednesday, Andrew said he did not consider those comments controversial when he made them, but has since accepted how they could be interpreted that way.

Still, the Falklands War veteran who served 22 years in the Royal Navy added, "You have to take the bashes with the good bits, and I've got a thick skin."

Asked whether he believes the situation in Iraq is improving, Andrew said he could not answer what he described as "almost a university Ph.D. question."

"I don't think I can possibly predict those sorts of ways that governments work to each other," he said. "I'm only a small cog in a very, very large machine."

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The main purpose of his visit is to promote business investment in Britain, he said. Of the approximately 1,000 investment projects that were begun last year in Britain, more than half came from the United States, resulting in the addition of more than 32,000 jobs, he said.

"Now I realize that what keeps us all going is international commerce, it's global trade," he said. "In some cases, politics keeps a lot of people thinking, but what actually makes the world go round is the commerce that goes on." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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