"Everyone is horrified by what they are seeing." Prince William talks to volunteers at a Ukrainian cultural centre and said it was "alien" for his generation to see war in Europe. Comments about war in Europe, which were misreported, caused outrage on social media.
On a visit to a Ukrainian cultural centre in west London on Wednesday, Prince William and Kate were given a detailed tour of how people across the UK are helping those struggling to defend their homeland in Ukraine.It was a moving visit, where the emotional toll of this war - and the strain of having families living in terrible conditions in Ukraine - was etched onto the faces of the volunteers. But one conversation the prince had about the Russian invasion of a European country led to a storm of outrage on social media.So, in the interests of fact and accuracy, we have gone back to the footage filmed on our camera and had a close listen.It was claimed, and then amplified in social media posts, that the Duke of Cambridge had said it was "normal to see war and bloodshed in Africa and Asia".Other posts claimed Prince William was "ignorant" and was "normalising war and death in Africa and Asia".Some asked him to apologise for "deeply offensive" comments.
The storm of protest follows criticism of some media reporting of the Ukraine invasion in recent weeks which had suggested this war was worse because it was happening to Europeans on the doorstep of the EU - rather than in other parts of the world, which often get much less coverage.So we have posted here the video recording of what Prince William actually said. It was a conversation in a room of the Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Holland Park where volunteers are working all hours to source material and supplies for those in Ukraine - from medical equipment, to thermal clothes and second-hand military boots.Prince William said: "Everyone is horrified by what they are seeing. 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.”William and Kate had just been hearing an account from volunteers of the shelling and bombing which was happening every day to their families and loved ones in Ukraine.Was he right to say it is "very alien to see this in Europe" when a war in the former Yugoslavia raged in the 1990s.Perhaps. Crimes of genocide were committed during that horrific ethnic conflict in the Balkans.
But he did say "for our generation" and his generation (born 1982) would have been 9- or 10-years-old when the war in the former Yugoslavia began.Even though he was educated at Eton College, and might have been expected to have a good understanding of world affairs - the first war he might have been aware of as a young man in his early twenties would have been the second Gulf War in 2003.So for his generation, it could be considered accurate to describe this as "very alien" in Europe.The invasion of Ukraine requires all of us, those in the media, those in positions of power, those in the Royal Family and those many millions on social media to be careful and considerate in what we write and say.The suffering of the people in Ukraine is equally as horrific as it has been for those in Afghanistan or Syria, or the civil war and genocide in Rwanda.Innocent people are being killed and injured in Ukraine and that suffering is no less or greater just because it is happening in Europe.