Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has defended the third in line to the throne over accusations of homophobia.

Prince Harry, a serving Army officer, apologised earlier this week after a Sunday tabloid revealed footage of him taken in 2006 while in training in which he questioned whether a fellow soldier was feeling “gay” or “a bit queer on the side” following an exhausting task.

He is also heard calling a fellow officer from the Pakistani army “our little Paki friend.”

Prince Harry apologised for his “non-malicious” remarks and his apology has been backed by the Prime Minister.

“I cannot see anything offensive about the context and manner in which Harry used the word queer,” said Mr Tatchell, who is a parliamentary candidate for the Green party and a republican.

“It wasn’t said with hate, aggression or malice.

“Later in his video diary the prince mouths to another soldier ‘I love you’ before kissing him on the cheek and licking his face. Kissing another bloke in front of his mates and putting it on film doesn’t seem very homophobic to me.

“On the contrary, Harry comes across as quite gay-friendly.

“We should kick up a fuss about real homophobia, not imagined prejudice.

“The prince is third in line to the British throne. For him to happily give his soldier friend a public kiss and lick his face strikes me as rather liberated and enlightened, for a straight man.

“If only more heterosexual men were relaxed about same-sex affection like Harry, the world would be a better place.

“The context and intention of words is crucial in deciding whether they are offensive or not. I don’t find anything objectionable about
the context in which Harry used the word queer.

“What is shameful is the double standards on racism and homophobia. Most media and critics have condemned Harry’s use of the word “Paki”, but not his use of the word “queer.” This is pure hypocrisy. Either both words are wrong or neither are wrong.”

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay equality organisation Stonewall, has expressed upset at Prince Harry’s comments and drawn attention to the damaging effect that these derogatory comments can have in the long-run.

“It’s conspicuous that Prince Harry has expressed regret for his racist remarks, but not yet for his homophobic ones,” he said.

“Working as Stonewall now does with staff of all three armed services, we know that this sort of low-level insult does have an impact on operational effectiveness.

“We trust that the Prince will act very swiftly to offer an appropriate apology, in particular to those lesbian and gay personnel currently on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.”