Author with Guyanese roots in race row with Prince Charles

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[MSN] – Prince Charles has been accused of making a serious gaffe after telling a woman with Guyanese origins “Well, you don’t look like it!” when she said she was from Manchester.

Writer Anita Sethi said she was “stunned” and her feelings went from “shock to humiliation to rage” following the encounter at the Commonwealth People’s Forum on Tuesday where she was a speaker. Describing Charles’ comments, which have drawn comparisons with Prince Philip’s gaffes on race, she wrote in The Guardian: “I told him that my mother was born in Guyana and that the anthology had collected hidden histories of indenture.

“And where are you from?” asked the prince.

“‘Manchester, UK,’ I said.

“‘Well, you don’t look like it!’ he said, and laughed.

“He was then ushered on to the next person.

“Although I have experienced such off-the-cuff, supposedly humorous, comments before, I was stunned by the gaffe.

“That the mooted next leader of an organisation that represents one-third of the people on the planet commented that I, a brown woman, did not look as if I was from a city in the UK is shocking.

“This is exactly why some people, including the prince, urgently need a history lesson about immigration, the British empire, the Commonwealth and colonialism.

“Because I do look like I’m from Manchester, actually – a city in which many people of colour have been born and bred.

“We need to skip a generation so that Prince Charles does not become king of England or head of the Commonwealth, and these privileges pass to leaders more enlightened.”

Some of Philip’s most notable gaffes include telling British students living in China: “If you stay here much longer you’ll all be slitty–eyed.”

He also asked an aboriginal leader: “Do you still throw spears at each other?”

Prince Charles, who was voted in today to eventually succeed The Queen as the next Head of the Commonwealth, is known for speaking out on racial and religious tolerance.

However, Ms Sethi wrote after her encounter with him: “Most of all, I feel angry that there could be such casual ignorance in the corridors of power, an ignorance that also permeates society – not least because some British people of colour invited here have been threatened with deportation.

“They don’t look like they are from here, according to some.”

Charles has visited 44 of the 53 Commonwealth countries and was decided as the new future head following a leaders’ retreat at Windsor Castle.

On Thursday, The Queen made a passionate speech calling for him to be her successor, as it was indicated she is now “winding down” her duties in the role.

Graham Smith, CEO of Republic which campaigns for an elected head of state, said yesterday about Charles’ comments: “It’s appalling behaviour and shows just how out of touch and unfit he is to be head of the commonwealth.

“We’re told he’s benefited from his experience but he still can’t manage a basic level of courtesy on official engagements. Is this the kind of person we want representing Britain?”

A Clarence House spokesman declined to comment.

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