Princes Call Polo Friend Sooty 'And He Doesn't Take Offence'; Close Friend: Property Developer Kolin Dhillon, Left, with Prince Harry at a Polo Match

The Evening Standard (London, England), January 13, 2009 | Go to article overview

Princes Call Polo Friend Sooty 'And He Doesn't Take Offence'; Close Friend: Property Developer Kolin Dhillon, Left, with Prince Harry at a Polo Match


Byline: SRI CARMICHAEL, BO WILSON

PRINCE CHARLES and his sons call a close friend of Indian descent "Sooty", it was revealed today.

It plunges the royal family into a second race row days after St James's Palace apologised for Harry using the term "Paki" about a fellow cadet at Sandhurst.

The three princes have called fellow Cirencester Polo Club member Kolin Dhillon the "affectionate nickname" for at least 15 years.

Sources at the club said they use the nickname for millionaire property developer Mr Dhillon, 58, "every time they meet". He is said to be close to other members of the royal family who also refer to him by the name.

He is understood not to take offence at its use.

However, neighbours near Mr Dhillon's home in Coates, near Cirencester, said no one outside the polo fraternity called him Sooty.

His wife said: "We have absolutely nothing to say about this matter."

A former chairman of the Schools and Universities Polo Association, Mr Dhillon is an "upstanding and integral" member of the Cirencester club, according to its spokesman John Lloyd.

His son Satnam, 31, is a professional polo player who has played for England.

A insider at the schools' association, who has known Mr Dhillon for years, said: "He has been called Sooty for as long as I remember. The princes and other royalty have called him that since I first met him, and that was about 15 or 16 years ago.

"The call him Sooty every time they meet, and he's never upset about that.

It's an affectionate nickname." Mr Dhillon once described Harry, 24, as an "exceptionally talented" polo player.

A spokesman for Clarence House said Charles was not racist, adding: "No one has been more of an advocate for the understanding and tolerance of various religious and ethnic groups than the Prince of Wales and his track record speaks volumes on this issue. …

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