Prince William is again facing accusations of racism after saying Britons were surprised by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Britons are used to seeing conflict in Africa and Asia, but "it's very alien to see this in Europe," the Duke of Cambridge, second in line to the British throne, said Wednesday as he and Duchess Kate Middleton visited a Ukrainian cultural centre in London, where volunteers were arranging aid packages, per the Independent. The couple had delivered homemade treats, per the Evening Standard. "We feel so useless" but "we are all behind you," William added. He quickly faced backlash on Twitter, with observers noting the royal family initiated conflicts in Africa and Asia.
"In India, they looted and plundered even as [many people] died of famine and their torture," tweeted Snehesh Alex Philip, an editor at India's Print news site who decried the comment as "racist," per the Washington Post. "How do you have a 1000 year history of colonialism, a literal 100 year war, launch 2 World Wars, allow multiple genocides, & bomb a dozen nations since 9/11 alone—yet make this type of a statement," asked human rights lawyer and activist Qasim Rashid, per the Independent. "This future King of England parrots racist rhetoric shamelessly," added British-Nigerian lawyer and activist Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, who said he must apologize. There's been no comment from Kensington Palace.
However, Evening Standard royal editor Robert Jobson defended William to the Post on Thursday, saying his comment had been "taken out of context." "To have a war in Europe to most Europeans is unfamiliar and deeply troubling" and "I am sure he didn't mean it to be racist," Jobson said. "He was only a small child when the Bosnia conflict started and this is perhaps his first experience of such terrible conflict happening in Europe during his adulthood." William faced similar backlash after complaining about human pressure on Africa's wild spaces last fall, per Newsweek. Kenyan ecologist Mordecai Ogada responded that "the average Western family of five will have a carbon footprint of a few hundred Maasai tribesmen in Kenya." (Read more Prince William stories.)