Prince William’s comment about ‘alien’ Ukraine conflict sparked backlash for this reason

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Prince William’s misquoted statement about the war in Ukraine has sparked backlash online.

On Wednesday, the Duke of Cambridge and his wife, Kate Middleton, visited the Ukrainian Cultural Centre in London to learn about the efforts being made to support Ukrainians in the UK.

“Everyone is horrified by what they are seeing,” said the 39-year-old during the couple’s visit. “It’s really horrifying. The news every day, it’s just, it’s almost unfathomable. For our generation, it’s very alien to see this in Europe. We’re all right behind you. We’re thinking about you. We feel so useless.”

Shortly after William’s statement, several outlets picked up a misquote that reportedly came from a reporter inside the event. It implied that William, who is heir to the British throne, actually said that the British were more used to seeing conflict in Africa and Asia, noting “It’s very alien to see this in Europe. We are all behind you.”

UKRAINE PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY THANKS PRINCE WILLIAM, KATE MIDDLETON FOR SUPPORT AMID RUSSIA’S INVASION

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge visit the Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Holland Park to learn about the extraordinary efforts being made to support Ukrainians in the UK and across Europe on March 9, 2022, in London, England. Meeting with members of the Ukrainian community and volunteers, Their Royal Highnesses heard about the services offered at the centre, the incredible amount of donations they have received and the challenges they continue to face to get material aid where it's most needed. As part of this The Duke and Duchess were invited to help with some sorting and packaging of items donated. The Duchess gave homemade cakes to the workers and the couple where shown around by Ukraine's ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko and his wife Inna Prystaiko. 

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge visit the Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Holland Park to learn about the extraordinary efforts being made to support Ukrainians in the UK and across Europe on March 9, 2022, in London, England. Meeting with members of the Ukrainian community and volunteers, Their Royal Highnesses heard about the services offered at the centre, the incredible amount of donations they have received and the challenges they continue to face to get material aid where it’s most needed. As part of this The Duke and Duchess were invited to help with some sorting and packaging of items donated. The Duchess gave homemade cakes to the workers and the couple where shown around by Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko and his wife Inna Prystaiko. 
(Photo by Ian Vogler-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The misattributed quote immediately came under fire on social media, sparking accusations of racism.

Among those to criticize the royal was CNN anchor Jake Tapper, who tweeted a photo of William’s great-uncle Edward, the Duke of Windsor, and his wife Wallis Simpson shaking hands with Adolf Hitler.

In the since-deleted tweet, the 52-year-old took aim at the quote “It’s very alien to see this in Europe” and added, “Read a book about your own family, dude.”

Following the backlash, an ITV video of the conservation in question was released on Thursday, which clarified the initial report.

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Richard Palmer, a royal correspondent for London’s Daily Express who misquoted the prince, also addressed the controversy on Twitter that day.

“The Duke of Cambridge on the war in Europe,” he tweeted. “He doesn’t appear to have compared it to conflicts in Africa and Asia. In the chaos, a remark he made was misheard, starting a social media storm. Apologies for reporting that online.”

The accusation came nearly a year after William insisted that his family is not racist following claims of bigotry made by his brother Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle.

“We’re very much not a racist family,” William told reporters at the time.

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Tapper also shared a new message on Twitter where he explained his thoughts about the situation.

Among those to criticize Prince William was CNN's Jake Tapper.

Among those to criticize Prince William was CNN’s Jake Tapper.
(Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for WarnerMedia)

“The original pool report on this Prince William quote from the UK was inaccurate, so I deleted my tweet about it,” he explained. “Here’s video of the quote. It remains ahistorical to say for someone born in the early 80s it’s ‘very alien’ to see war in Europe. The Balkans conflict throughout the 1990s was hideous.”

The conflict Tapper was referring to was the Bosnian War, which took place in southeastern Europe from 1991 to 1995, People magazine reported. According to the outlet, William was nine years old when the conflict began and 13 when it ended.

A spokesperson for the prince didn’t immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

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William and Middleton previously shared their public support for Ukraine in a joint personal statement shared on their official Twitter account.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meet Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife Olena during an audience at Buckingham Palace on October 7, 2020, in London, England.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge meet Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife Olena during an audience at Buckingham Palace on October 7, 2020, in London, England.
(Photo by Jonathan Brady/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

“In October 2020 we had the privilege to meet President Zelenskyy and the First Lady to learn of their hope and optimism for Ukraine’s future,” the statement read. “Today we stand with the President and all of Ukraine’s people as they bravely fight for that future.”

In response, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the couple, tweeting that he and his wife Olena “are grateful to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge @RoyalFamily that at this crucial time, when Ukraine is courageously opposing Russia’s invasion, they stand by our country and support our brave citizens.”

“Good will triumph,” the 44-year-old added.

UKRAINE PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY APPLAUDED BY PRINCE WILLIAM, KATE MIDDLETON

William and Middleton’s Instagram account has chronicled the couple’s visit to the centre.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge visit the Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Holland Park on March 09, 2022, in London, England.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge visit the Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Holland Park on March 09, 2022, in London, England.
(Photo by Neil Mockford/GC Images)

“Over the past two weeks, communities and organisations here in the UK have come together to provide vital support to Ukrainians here in Britain and across Europe,” the caption read. “The Ukrainian Cultural Centre in London has become one of many hubs organising donations, material aid and supporting Ukrainians living locally. The work volunteers here are doing to ensure that help gets to where it is most needed is inspiring.”

“So too is the incredible generosity of the British public,” the caption continued. “The Disasters Emergency Committee has already received over £132 million in donations, and continues to raise funds to support the essential humanitarian effort. Find out more via @DisastersEmergencyCommittee or check with your local charity about what they are most in need of.”

During their visit, the couple met with members of the Ukrainian community, as well as volunteers. They brought chocolate brownies and granola bars from their Kensington Palace kitchen and wore pins showcasing the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag.

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Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues after forces invaded on Feb. 24. Hundreds have already been reported dead or wounded, including children. According to the United Nations, more than a million Ukrainians have also fled to safety.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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