She is quite ignorant I'm not racist, says princess, I even pretended to be 'half-caste'
The Guardian, Saturday 24 July 2004 00.00 BST
It was a curious way to bury allegations of racism, but then there is much about Princess Michael of Kent that is curious. Ignoring the first rule for dealing with any gaffe - stop digging - she has revealed she once pretended to be "half-caste" and has declared her love for "adorable" Africans.
Dubbed Princess Pushy thanks to a reputation for demanding behaviour and an unduly privileged lifestyle, she got into difficulty two months ago when she allegedly told a group of African American diners in New York to "go back to the colonies". She said there had been a misunderstanding.
In a bizarre interview to be broadcast on ITV1 on Sunday, she has enlarged on the injustice of the accusations.
No one could consider her racist, she said, were they to know of her past.
"I even pretended years ago to be an African, a half-caste African, but because of my light eyes I did not get away with it, but I dyed my hair black," Princess Michael said.
Then she digs some more: "I travelled on African buses. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted experiences from Cape Town to right up in northern Mozambique. I had this adventure with these absolutely adorable, special people and to call me racist: it's a knife through the heart because I really love these people." Whether the sentiment is reciprocated is unclear.
But she said the British press had never accepted her because she is foreign. "I have different ways of saying things and doing things," she says in the interview for My Favourite Hymns. She was born Marie-Christine von Reibnitz, daughter of an Austrian father with connections to the Nazi party.
In the interview she tries to explain the restaurant row as the result of a misheard comment, saying she had asked to move to somewhere quieter and was told the only table was "in Siberia".
She continued: "'Siberia?' I said 'At this point I would be ready to go back to the colonies'. I was unaware, and I probably should have been aware, that 'colonies' is a pejorative term in America."'
Nicole Young, one of the diners who complained about the alleged comments, said: "We definitely didn't misunderstand ... A restaurant full of people heard what she said, so it's almost like a joke the way she tries to explain it." She told GMTV: "It's interesting that she referred to how she wished she was half-caste." Princess Michael's spokesman declined to comment yesterday.
The Commission for Racial Equality said it did not consider half-caste an "acceptable" word for a person whose parents are of different races.