‘Sooty’ defends Prince Charles

Author: By Tony Jones, PA

Kolin Dhillon said the nickname used by Charles and other players at the
Cirencester polo club where they are members was “a term of affection”.

Charles was branded “out of touch” for using the nickname, which refers to Mr
Dhillon’s skin colour, but the Prince’s friend insisted he was not offended
by it.

He said: “I have to say that you know you have arrived when you acquire a
nickname.

“I enjoy being called Sooty by my friends who I am sure universally use the
name as a term of affection with no offence meant or felt.

“The Prince of Wales is a man of zero prejudice and both his sons have always
been most respectful.”

The race row comes a few days after Prince Harry was widely condemned for
calling a former Army colleague “Paki”.

Mr Dhillon, a former chairman of the Schools and Universities Polo
Association, is originally from the Punjab and emigrated to Britain in 1955.

In the 1990s he hosted school polo matches on his home’s private polo field
that were attended by Charles’ sons William and Harry when they were
studying at Eton.

Mr Dhillon’s real name is Kuldip Singh Dhillon but he is also known by the
Anglicised name Kolin.

Mr Dhillon, who lives near Cirencester, is a long-standing member of his polo
club and has been playing the sport for more than three decades.

Over the years he would have become clubmates with Charles, 60, whose
Highgrove home in Gloucestershire is near the club and whose sons are also
members.

Graham Smith, campaign manager for the organisation Republic, said the
development revealed that the royal family were “not a symbol of unity” but
“quite divisive”.

He said: “It also shows how hugely out of touch they are and that they live in
a very isolated world, only mixing with a certain kind of person.”

Clarence House defended Charles and his sons, saying: “To imply the princes
are racist is ridiculous.

“Through their charity work, all three of them are committed to helping
people, both in the UK and abroad, regardless of who they are.”

Lady Sara Apsley waded into the latest row today and urged against “royal-
bashing”.

Lady Apsley, who hosts Cirencester Polo Club on 3,000 acres at Cirencester
Park, told the Gloucestershire Echo she too had called Mr Dhillon “Sooty”
for years.

She said: “Sooty is a fantastic friend of ours and he couldn’t care less about
his nickname.

“We all have enormous respect and liking for him. He’s comfortable in his own
skin and certainly doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder.

“I imagine there are millions of people across the world called names with
racial intonations but they’re not meant maliciously.

“I’m sick and tired of all this. Being PC has got so ridiculous – you can’t
say anything now. Where is our freedom of speech?”

Lady Apsley, the daughter of Lord Bathurst, who runs a farming business on the
15,000-acre Cirencester Park estate, also leapt to the Prince’s defence.

She said: “We should really focus on who released that private home video
which started all of this – it’s an invasion of privacy.

“Harry is one of the kindest, loveliest, most fun and relaxed young gentlemen
I’ve had the pleasure to know.”

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