America is gearing up for its first black President. Generally considered an all-round good thing. I hope he never gets to meet Prince Charles. I particularly hope he doesn't get to meet him and develop a warm and close friendship with him. Barack Obama is deciding between ties for his big day, while our heir to the crown is explaining how perfectly OK-yah it is to call property developer Kuldip Dhillon "Sooty." "Sooty"? You could not make it up.
At the weekend, we learnt Prince Harry dubbed his former Army colleague Ahmed Raza Khan "my little Paki friend"). He's 24 - fair do's. When you're 24, you often behave like a blithering idiot. He is a soldier and hopefully there are many, many other soldiers who call him a right royal ginger knob, or some such. Most people give him a break because there is a general feeling it is tough to be the younger son, he is not allowed to do what he wants to do, and in any case, he is not necessarily the sharpest knife in the box. Prince Charles however? Come off it.
Said "Sooty" has described his nickname as a "term of affection". In a statement, he reassured us: "I have to say that you know you have arrived when you acquire a nickname. I enjoy being called Sooty by my friends, who I am sure universally use the name as a term of affection with no offence meant or felt. The Prince of Wales is a man of zero prejudice and both of his sons have always been most respectful."
Dhillon's been described as a multi-millionaire property developer and a leading figure of the Cirencester polo club. Does he have a term of affection for Prince Charles I wonder? Maybe something like "Your Royal Highness"? I figure, if you're mates with a load of toffs who fall on their heads a lot, you get what you deserve.
Does Charles live in the real world? OK, stupid question. In any event, bear in mind, Charles is the son of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, whose gaffes are the stuff of legend. What's not to love about this family? "Paki" son of "Sooty" son of "slitty-eyed "Chinese. Now Obama has already referred to himself as a "mutt" - that's what you call giving Charles a nice wide open door to ride his polo horse through. Though stop a minute he doesn't play polo anymore. In any event, his own website makes it clear he didn't so much play polo as "raise money for charity by playing polo." Either way,he's retired. I can think of another thing that should have retired - words like "Sooty" and "Paki". Yah-di-yah-di-yah, the Prince's people have harrumphed loudly, poured themselves a pink gin, reached for the Bakelite phone and denied HRH is a racist. I'll believe you. He's not a racist - he just occasionally forgets that this is 2009 and he's not a character in an Evelyn Waugh novel. Yeah gods - Obama could end the war in Iraq just in time to start one with the UK. Let's keep it simple - let's keep Prince Polo away from The Man, shall we?
I'm sure we could fill pages and pages with gaffes our fearless leaders over here have made, too.
As long as HRH doesn't call the president elect 'Sooty', affectionately or no, I think we will all be ok.
Politicians & celebs over here are equally cringe-worthy. Who can forget McCain calling Obama "That One"? & this week, Republican darling "Joe The Plummer" is in the middle east offering his advice on the Gaza conflict and asking questions like "are Israelis bad?".
And there was that Sarah Palin, 'a pig in lipstick - jibe, no? Wasn't that Pres. Obama, allegedly?
I think The Man might be more than a match for our, as you say, outdated, outmoded, anachronistic monarchy...
These people need to be dragged, kicking and screaming into the 21st Century - in my most humble and subservient opinion...
Think the Harry thing is a bit of a storm in a teacup. The guy *is* a Paki....what else would Harry call him? :))
I had to laugh at Sooty though, I mean seriously, that was really stupid. Like you said, oh yeah sure, nicknames, right? And HRH's nickname would be, what, Flappy? Sooty and Flappy...there you go...so c'mon, Soots, let's float that out on peak hour television and see how much back slapping goes down...
judith, nice one. Your American fans (who were at Barter Books in July) must be over the moon with Obama's victory. Nice folks. x
Lets face it Chuck does not live in the real world. When I was living in Edinburgh he came to open some building at the Royal Botanic Gardens. He got dropped off, someone put his coat round his shoulders, he walked up a red carpet which was laid out on the freshly manicure lawn, he went inside the building, talked to a few plants for a while, came back out, someone handed him a speech which he dutifully read, smiled an d waved some then hopped back in the car to do it all again somewhere else. He is a right tosser because he knows no other way to live. And just like his old man he is bound to put hi sfoot in it with the gaffes. Oops did I just use a derogatory term?
As for Harry the reality is that I am not sure calling someone a Paki could be racist. Isnt that like calling me an Aussie because I am Australian? And if you think I am a bitter old cow in terms of the Royal family I am. The Queen is still imprinted on our coins and notes. I must tell you about he time I met the Queens Scottish hairdresser one day.
Glad I found your blog! Someone pointed it out to me as the blog that inspired them. Everyone seemed to know who you were other than me. Clever wit and good reading, thanks. Do you do guest posts on other blogs?
I pity the Poor Chuck,
For all his wealth and oxbridge he is still such a dud.
Love it! Been reading for over a year and never dared congratulate you on a great blog, but this post laughed me into action :)
As you say, none of them is the brightest of buttons but you'd think Harry would learn. He has form for this: he was fond of calling the French barman in his local pub the "F****** Frog". And let us not forget the Nazi uniform fancy dress choice. 'Paki' and 'Sooty' definitely have more insulting overtones than 'Aussie'. Racial nicknames, even in jest, are also a way of putting people in their place.
Mind you I'm not sure what Obama would make of France: they still have a cake here called a "Tete-de-Nègre" (Nigger's Head). Makes me cringe every time.
Do try not to be so smug and self righteous
I don't agree with your views this time Wifey,but at least we have the freedom in Britain to publicly criticise the monarchy-as a journalist you will know that in some countries it would be illegal and/or very dangerous to "blog" about the monarchy,politics etc.
to li'l ol' wine drinker - who's being smug or self righteous? 'paki' is a racist term, end of. i'm irish, and when anyone calls me 'paddy', they get an earful back, because i do see it as racist, that kind of language is always meant as a slur, don't kid yourself otherwise.
I agree, Angie - I am a Scot and no - one who has called me, or referred to me as a jock has done it with warmth or affection, let alone respect. Nicknames like these are examples of reductive language and are intended to do just that - reduce the stature of the recipient of the term.
Charles & Harry are both products of an environment where this kind of nickname is acceptable. Their world appears not to have moved on whilst many others have. I suspect that whilst apologies and statements have been issued they probably feel they have done very little wrong.I do feel that there is an element of Royal bashing though in the way the issue has been reported.
Whilst comments about "reductive language" may be currently appropriate these things have a habit of coming full circle, "Geordie" was a term perhaps used in a derogatory way originally but a people prouder of the label would be hard to find these days.
I read a lot of blogs (I love yours by the way) and I have found a trend emerging - people that leave snotty comments generally do so anonymously.
Having reviewed my earlier comment (which I have now deleted), my conclusion is that I was in bad fettle this morning and misread the tone of the previous comment. Just wanted to say wifey that I agree with you re: Charles and his offspring and they ought to know better. However, racism comes in many forms. I think we can get caught up with political correctness in general and this can divert attention from the true issues.
Is "people that" rather than "people who" "leave snotty comments" racist/derogatory? I do agree with that finding, but I'm interested..
Also agree with Isobel, racism comes in many forms and extreme political correctness is also rampant.A hospital here in Dublin refused to put up a crib in case it caused offence to visitors; that, to me, is rubbish, what do others think? mimi
I think it is very easy to blame political correctness when trying to defend racism. We are in a different world now and we have to consider the consequences of the words we use. And you would think, wouldn't you, that at least HRH senior would be politically aware enough to think things through.
Hi Mrs. Just found your terrific blog. Wow! I will return often. The Royal children require a little tolerance don't they. Foot-in-mouth disease seems to affect them all. Well, they are yours and Mr. Bush is ours. You know, the misunderestimated President. For eight years our overly liberal media has used him as their personal pinata. Who, pray tell, will they put in their sights after he leaves office. My guess is Sarah Palin. So much for unbiased reporting of the news. My point? You Brits are lucky to have an entire family to pick on. Have fun.
Let's see... Obama has a sense of self-deprecating humour (as does Wifey, which we love about her!). My mother always said that it was a sign of maturity to be able to laugh about yourself. My husband, who is indian-born/culture etc, but spent much of his life in Australia and can take/make a joke or two - Oops! is that racist saying that Aussies are light-humoured?! - often refers to himself amongst his friends, as a 'curry muncher' (no-one can call HIM racist!)Maybe 'sooty' and 'p*ki' were in on the joke? the press have a habit of invading what should be privacy and reporting things out of context. So perhaps it would be rash to judge. However I do admit that with great power (or visibility) comes great responsibility... and the use of language is one such... easily mis-interpreted...
hey on good form today :D
I love the fact that Sooty said he wasn't offended. Of course he'd say that. Someone wanting to move in those circles isn't going to tell the heir to the throne to knock it off and use his proper name now are they?
And if Charles comes here, I'll send word to Obama to ignore him. (He IS from Chicago after all.)
So what's in a name?
Some of my old Aussie friends still say I'm a Pommie Barstard and they mean it in the nicest way. If they called me any different I'd be a bit worried.
Perhaps its time our society decided that it is no longer politically correct to be politically correct.
Oh dear, what a horrible play on words...
Happy New Year BTW.
You will notice that I have a variety of different colours. One day you will all be piebald like me...
On a lighter not... did the consignment of 'Ladypleasers' (TM) arrive? I am anxiously awaiting your postal order due to a recent court appearance ... ahem ....
When the Judith O'Reilly Trust, set up using your book proceeds has done as much good works as The Prince's Trust we will think you have made as useful a contribution to society as Prince Charles. Until then...
quite agree with "whose this then"
The princes trust has put back in to the world far more than any of his yowling critics
Enjoyed the read.
Looks like you have opened the proverbial can of worms going by the variety of comments.
If the recipient of the "nickname" wasn't bothered, why should anyone else be? Looks like everyone is getting on their high horses about something that happenend 3 years ago - personally I think we should just ignore it and give it the press it deserves - none. I'm sure many people call Harry "Ginge" or "carrot top" that could be equally offensive to him, however if it made the press, I suspect most people wouldn't stick up for him and would probably have the attitude that he should just live with it.
Goodness, who'd have thought that your common sense would be outrageous to so many? I suppose a variety of opinion is to be welcomed- just keep letting us know yours!
Is the new President black? His mother is a white American of English and Irish descent. Perhaps we should be less hung up on the colour of people's skins and describe him simply as the next Anglo-Irish President?
I suspect he will judge Prince Charles as he finds him. Hopefully Obama won't dislike the Prince before he meets him just based on some spiteful resentment about his accident of birth.
To explain to new readers - this is what you get on Wife in the North - a bit of Wifey's life, a bit of Northumberland and a bit of the political. Mix it up and off we go.
Nobody needs to take it personally. I did say "Let's talk guys" and if everyone agreed with everyone else that would be dull. One of the most interesting things about blogging is that everyone has an opinion. I have one. You have one. The fact we can express them on our blogs and comments is a good thing. (I've just seen Matt's cartoon
in the Telegraph by the way, pretty similar thought-process going on - did the outraged ring in to complain I wonder? I'm willing to bet they didn't. They'll have taken it in the spirit in which it was meant. Well, you've got to do the same thing with this blog. Let's keep talking. "Corgis - don't you just hate them" anyone?)
Great to see you are back in business.
My own feelings on the matter are that it really is a pathetic story hyped up by an equally pathetic scandal sheet!
As for all those politically correct persons (I don't think it would be politically correct to call them ladies or gentlemen - too sexist!) I really feel they create far more problems with their attitudes than they will ever solve.
Many years ago I had a schoolfriend who was of ample proportions. He was known to one and all as "Tubby" (which alliterated with his surname). He never had any problem with this, and even signed himself as "Tubby". Another friend with the surname of Darley was always known as "Ding Dong". Pardon the pun, but Ding Dong Darley does have a certain ring about it!
Back to HRH Prince Charles. What evidence has been produced to show that the nickname Sooty refers to the colour of this man's skin?
Could it not be that he was a cuddly character, or full of mischief like the glove puppet?
What about all the Scots referred to as "Jock" or the Irish referred to as "Paddy" or the English known to our bretheren from Oz as "Pommie B*st*rds" Have the politically correct brigade been out defending these poor people? And as for the poor Welsh (Sing far too loud far too often and flat) to quote Flanders and Swann's "Song of Patrioutc Prejudice" The Politically Correct Brigade would certainly throw a wobbly if they read the words of this!
If the recipient of the nickname takes no offence what right do the PC Brigade have to put in their uneeded and often unwanted fillings?
My thoughts on the PC Brigade follow Scrooge's comments - "Bah Humbug!"
well, let it be known that Harry is known in army circles as son of Hewitt..... I guess thats a term of affection too!!!
How is it we can use an Italian accent, a scottish accent - a welsh accent -etc etc..... but the minute anyone does an Indian accent it is deemed offensive?
are we not still tarred with the Warren Mitchell school of PC? do the young generation see these things as offensive?
I heard the clip on the video - and thought you could hear real warmth in the comments - there was obviously no hurt intended.....
I am no Harry fan - but feel this time that he is being tarred.
I went through school being known as that intellectually beautiful soul..... but didnt let it affect moi.... LOLOL.....
I get tired of the media these days. There's too many of them all scuttling around trying to find a "story," and anything that pokes fun at the Royal Family seems to do very nicely. I'm just glad that I don't have to watch every word I say or write for fear that it is going to be taken out of context and blared across the country. 24 hour news channels seemed a good thing, but I begin to doubt it.
Stinking Billy -- "Over the moon" cannot begin to describe the feeling!!
I have a blog award for you - visit my blog to pick it up!
I'm shocked by our Royals, and by the fact that some might think it OK for them to say such things. The word Paki is offensive and is normally used as such - full stop. Someone from Pakistan is a Pakistani.
As a mother of two kids with African origins, I can only say that names based on the colour of your skin are not affectionate.. it's closet racism.. and not usually something the person who gets the nickname likes or appreciates.
The royals should be setting an example for everyone so that people realize that is it not okay to say such things in the 21 century!
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