Joke about Prince Harry taken the wrong way, Labour MP claims

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A Labour MP who reportedly mocked Prince Harry's military career has said her "joke" was "taken the wrong way".

Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad, who was said to have questioned the royal's ability to fly a helicopter, released a statement on Twitter which asks "can we look at the real issues facing us now?".

In it, she highlights the plight of survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire and says she is "ashamed of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea's status as the most unequal borough in Britain".

Ms Dent Coad then contrasts the millions spent on supporting the royal family and refurbishing Buckingham Palace with Grenfell survivors being "abandoned in pokey hotel rooms" just a "short walk away".

The statement reads: "On Monday night I made a joke. It has been taken the wrong way. Can we look at the real issues facing us now?

"We heard last night at the council meeting about some survivors who have given up hope and are contemplating suicide.

Prince Harry
Prince Harry wearing his monocle gun sight as he sits in the front seat of the cockpit in an Apache Helicopter (John Stillwell/PA)

"And just yesterday a baby was hospitalised after being given expired milk by the council. Where is the £20 million raised from donations, and where is the help people so desperately need?

"People are angry. I'm angry too. And I will highlight these issues loud, clear and often until they are addressed."

A furore erupted after Ms Dent Coad was quoted by The Sun as saying: "Harry can't actually fly a helicopter ... He tried to pass the helicopter exam about four times and he couldn't get through it at all so he always goes for the co-pilot.

On Prince Harry's military service: pic.twitter.com/GKCyV6255M

-- John Woodcock (@JWoodcockMP) September 26, 2017

"So he just sits there going 'vroom vroom'."

She was addressing a fringe meeting of Labour's Brighton conference called Reigning in The Monarchy and claimed the coverage showed the press were "in charge of the narrative".

During his 10-year full-time military career, Harry went on two tours of duty to Afghanistan and qualified as an Apache helicopter pilot after rigorous training in Britain and the US.

It was during his second, 20-week tour starting in September 2012 that he got the chance to use his Apache flying skills and head out on operations in his role as co-pilot gunner.

John Woodcock, MP for Barrow & Furness, has insisted his colleague's comments did not reflect the view of the party.

He previously responded on Twitter: "The highly inaccurate comments reportedly made by one of our colleagues, which disparage Prince Harry's military service, in no way reflect the views of my party."