LONDON – A friend of Prince Charles insisted Tuesday that the prince is not racist, after a newspaper reported that the heir to the throne refers to him as “Sooty.”
Kolin Dhillon said the nickname used by Charles and other players at the Cirencester Polo club in west England was a term of affection. The wealthy property developer is a member of the club, as is Charles, and is originally from the Indian subcontinent.
The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported Tuesday that both Charles and his two sons William and Harry call Dhillon “Sooty,” and claimed the term was offensive.
Most Britons know the term “Sooty” from a 1950s children’s television program that featured a glove puppet in the shape of a teddy bear with the same name.
Dhillon said in a statement that he enjoys being called “Sooty” and he is sure those who use it meant no offense.
“The Prince of Wales is a man of zero prejudice and both his sons have always been most respectful,” Dhillon said.
The Royal family’s attitudes have been under scrutiny recently after a newspaper released video from 2006 of Prince Harry using a racial slur about a Pakistani army cadet. Harry apologized but said the expression had been used about a friend without malice.
Charles’ office, Clarence House, refused to comment on the nickname. It said in a statement that it was ridiculous to imply that either Charles or his sons are racist.