TCS Trading Card: Prince Henry (Harry) of Wales

September 15th, 2011 | Categories: Ethnicity

Happy birthday Prince Harry!

Harry such a nice nickname, isn’t it? Especially if you consider that he was born Prince Henry Charles Albert David. Nicknames are helpful because they tend to be concise, easy to remember, and take less time to say. In this way, nicknames are functional when they are communicated. Not only that but nicknames like Prince Harry, and especially those cutesy sounding ones like love muffin, pumpkin, and even stinky, are terms of endearment that show how familiar people are with each other and how much they love and trust each other.

Prince Harry’s famous stereotype of “My Little Paki Friend” meets the functional use of nicknames mentioned above but you might not want to call that particular nickname a term of endearment. “Little Paki Friend” sounds more demeaning and impersonal than cute, familiar, loving, and trusting.

Yet, Captain Khan, the target of Prince Harry’s racial slur, was forgiving stating, “The Prince called me by a nickname which is usually very insulting but I know he didn’t mean it that way. We were close friends when we were training and I know he is not a racist.”

So which is it, an offensive and racist slur or a nickname acting as a term of endearment? People use slurs all the time as nicknames and no one seems to care. For example, the N-word is such an offensive racial slur that people often can not bring themselves to say it when they discuss it academically (such as this blog or in almost any class I have taught in which it has been discussed). Yet, “My Nigga” is not only the name of a popular song by Lil Wayne, but it even made the urban dictionary. So clearly racial slurs can be used as terms of endearment.

Perhaps “My Little Paki Friend” received so much negative publicity because it was spoken by the Prince of Wales? Well, if even the specific target of the stereotype can forgive Prince Harry, then maybe not.

Although… Prince Harry is the Prince of Wales. If anyone in a powerful position was going to be able to get away with such a racial slur used at the height of anti-Muslim and anti-Middle Eastern sentiment with military personnel, Prince Harry is not a bad choice. There are probably more than a few benefits to being a Prince. Getting away with a racial slur probably would not be the most difficult thing he has gotten away with in his life.

Sometimes people can get away with communicating racial slurs as nicknames because they are used and accepted as terms of endearment. Sometimes people can get away it for other reasons. Looking in from the outside,we would never know which with certainty.

Today is Prince Harry’s birthday. Just imagine all the things he could probably get away with saying today.

Check out Prince Harry’s video in TCM’s Celebrity Gallery and his Trading Card below.

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