Prince William confused Japanese food with Chinese food during an event this week

The Duke Of Cambridge Attends The Grand Opening Of Japan House London

Prince William has gotten back to work. He’s been making appearances and doing events every other day for the past two weeks or so. I think Prince George’s school year has started and perhaps Charlotte’s nursery school has begun as well, so the Cambridge family is definitely back in London for the school year. On Thursday, William opened up the new Japan House in London. The Japan House is basically a Japanese cultural center and they were probably quite happy that they got William to “open” the center. They invited London school kids to come to the event and there was sushi and kid-friendly activities and more. During one of those activities, William was trying to make chit-chat with some of the kids. And he made a gaffe.

People Magazine’s Simon Perry posted a longer version of this video to Instagram, which you can see here. It’s interesting to see the lead up to that gaffe, because – just my opinion – William does not seem comfortable at all. It’s not the Japan House that makes him uncomfortable, it’s trying to chat with the British kids at the table. He’s trying desperately to make conversation and he asks them, “Have you guys had much Chinese food? Sorry, Japanese food. Have you had much Japanese food? No? Not too much. Do you like sushi? It’s delicious, it really is yummy.”

So, is this “the odd bloop” or is it more like “God, William CAN’T DO ANYTHING”? I think it’s racist to confuse the food from two different Asian countries, but I also think… people make mistakes and he corrected himself immediately, which means William is a tad better at this than his grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, who has been known for decades for saying racist crap and never correcting himself. But still, William could and should do better.

The Duke Of Cambridge Attends The Grand Opening Of Japan House London

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

107 Responses to “Prince William confused Japanese food with Chinese food during an event this week”

  1. Lala11_7 says:

    The adorable little boy’s face in the last picture…TRULY says it ALL!!!

    #dobetter

  2. TheHufflepuffLizLemon says:

    This is part of being prepared for speaking and interacting in public. I absolutely think it’s just Will not being focused or prepared mentally for what he was about to do. Little blips in your speaking like this come from not being fully engaged in your surroundings. Slips around similar words and mispronunciation are different from completely using the wrong culture or country of origin. For me, just another sign around lack of engagement and preparation in his role.
    ETA: I don’t think he was being particularly racist in this instance, but I could be wrong about that.

    • Millenial says:

      I don’t know. I’m a college instructor so I can relate – being “on,” even for just several hours a week – people are bound to make mistakes every once and a while , especially when tired or when there’s a lot going on outside of our job. And worse yet sometimes those mistakes reveal our unconscious biases (which everyone has no matter how woke we think we are).

      I think my worst gaffe was a mess up about women in STEM – I knew what I was trying to say (women are underrepresented in STEM) but it just did not come out right at all and I spent a couple minutes cleaning up and apologizing. It happens.

      So, yes, Will was probably unfocused and has some unconscious bias around Asian cultures, but I’m not going going to throw stones.

    • Anon says:

      I once forgot my client’s name while I was in court, and you better believe I was well prepared and focussed at the time, with years of speaking in public behind me. It happens sometimes. People misspeak. Nobody’s perfect (and I don’t think he has a big history of gaffes).

    • Rhys says:

      I don’t think it’s racist at all. He might be racist or he might not be but to confuse two Asian cuisines doesn’t make him one.

      I remember my first time at a French restaurant. I’ve never had French food before and I’ve never been to a restaurant that offered a specific kind of cuisine. It was just food at the restaurants in my hometown. So I had no idea what to order and asked the waiter for the only thing I thought every restaurant in the world would carry – pasta. The waiter was French and you should SEE his Indignation. Looking back I think he was a f@cking jerk to give me grief that day.

    • Mego says:

      You are spot on. He really isn’t engaged at all and seems ill at ease. Being a working royal must be a nightmare for him as he isn’t all that personable. The gaffe is embarrassing, not a huge deal but a symptom of the things Kaiser is saying. His schedule isn’t all that gruelling so being tired isn’t an excuse. I kind of feel sorry for him as his life seems to lack passion and purpose.

  3. Digital Unicorn says:

    I totally agree that this is just another example of him not really bothering to engage with what’s happening around him as he doesn’t really want to be doing this. He and Katie Keen are both very uncomfortable at events like this, both struggle to engage and seem interested. Being prepared and focusing your attention goes a long way in making you feel like you can handle the situation even if you have to fake it.

  4. Chaine says:

    Not a big deal, does it signal that he doesn’t think about Asian cultures very much and when he does he lumps them all together? Yes, but OTOH I don’t think it signals any malicious or racist intent. I agree with the poster above that he needs to prepare better for these appearances and have some things thought through in advance about what to say.

  5. Cassandra says:

    He can try to distance himself from his Dad and the rest of his family, but that upbringing comes through. Like Grandfather like Father like Son.

  6. AppleTartin says:

    A few years ago I was ordering take out lunch for me and some work friends at a Japanese restaurant my friend wanted fried rice instead of white rice. When I said that the woman started yelling at me on the phone. If I want fried rice to go call a Chinese restaurant.

    Cardinal sin, lesson learned.

    • JustSayin' says:

      I went into a japanese sushi place once and ordered chinese food… I think I ordered stir fry shrimps and noodles. They looked at me like I was crazy and when I realized my mistake i just stuttered sorry and ran out the door. I was so embarrassed. Makes me cringe just thinking about it.
      To be fair, it was late and there was a chinese place not too far away that I always used to go to and I was a teenager.
      Thats my excuse.😶

    • Genessee says:

      Food confusion happens. Especially when trying a new place.

      I live in an area with a large Asian population and a strong showing of Asian restaurants. My nearest Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese restaurants all offer fried rice. The Thai and Chinese restaurants both also offer Wonton soup and Chow Mein. But apparently, they are only Chinese/Chinese-American? A Thai restaurant also offers Pho (Vietnamese) and Ramen (Japanese). There’s a Korean restaurant nearby that also offers Sushi.

      It can be confusing at times, especially with restaurants trying to cater to the widest clientele. Maybe your friend encountered a restaurant that offered a mix of cuisines and automatically ordered according to what she was used to?

      Imagine the confusion that happens when people go to Latin American restaurants and order burritos (Tex-Mex?) or tacos (Mexican). It happens. I don’t think it’s being racist. In William’s case, it was careless.

      • enike says:

        Exactly, the same here
        in all Asian restaurants they do everything, fried noodles, fried rice, sushi, etc
        in Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese
        and they have some typical dishes for their own cuisin

        so, its not a surprise people get confused sometimes if they are not Asian origin

        as I have more international friends, I started to call it Asian food, so not to offend anyone

        PS. I still think the yelling at a restaurant if you are ignorant about their offer is very rude and not professional from the restaurant owners (what somebody mentioned above)

  7. OSTONE says:

    I don’t think he was malicious in intent, however he is the Crown Prince of the MF United Kingdom, do better!! It just shows how out of touch the Windsors are in modern times in regards to race, when Chuck said to the woman in Manchester she didn’t look British and now Normal Bill confusing Chinese for Japanese cuisine. They only see wealthy, white and aristocrat.

  8. Zee says:

    Calling the confusion of two different cuisines racist is the reason people have become so desensitized to the word (and racism itself). That’s why people wave it off when POC speak of micro aggressions because they associate the word with trivial bs like this. We really need to choose our words carefully or else nobody will take real racism serious.

    • Rhys says:

      I agree. Being upset over things that don’t matter has become a favorite past time for people of today.

    • Natalie S says:

      I’m fairly confident that this is not the reason many people don’t take racism seriously or refuse to listen to POC. I think it’s far more likely that they’re defensive about their complicity in a racist system that benefits them and don’t care for change that might affect their own options and behavior.

      • Renee2 says:

        Thank you Natalie!!! You are right.

        Now, I don’t think he’s going home and trying on his klan hood but it is racist nonetheless. People don’t want to take racism seriously because they don’t want to do the work of dismantling it or changing their behavior, not because people are crying wolf when it comes to discrimination and oppression. There is a whole spectrum of actions that are racist and just because some of us feel that it me on the milder end doesn’t mean that it isn’t racist.

      • Natalie S says:

        Right, I don’t think William’s intent was racist but the effect is racist. He screwed up while doing his job and he apologized which was the right thing to do and hopefully he’s embarrassed enough that from now on he prepares beforehand and stays focused during the engagement.

        William has a track record of being careless and has been insulting and even boastful about his lack of preparedness so something like this was bound to happen. He should feel embarrassed. Maybe this will make him finally change his behavior.

        Milder actions create a culture that alienates POC and eventually leads to more aggressive acts of racism against POC. It’s necessary to call it out at all levels.

      • Nic919 says:

        Renee and Natalie both excellent comments. Also outside of being Japanese or Chinese I really don’t think anyone is in a position to say that they don’t find it a racist comment. Lainey certainly had a problem with it and she is rarely critical of the royals. What he did was confuse Japanese and Chinese as if “they are all the same” and while the intent might not have been racist, the hurt remains the same.

    • Claire says:

      I completely disagree with your comment. This is trivial. Making a big deal out of something so trivial is actually comparable to the boy who cried wolf. It’s getting old and the people who cry racism at every little thing are the most racist. Anyone who says they aren’t racist is a liar.

    • Mimsy says:

      Unless someone is of the culture/race that is being treated as “okay” to mix up, then I don’t really think that whether it’s “racist” or not is something “trivial”. When Japanese-Americans were being interned into camps during WW2 it sure the heck mattered whether you were of Chinese or Japanese decent. There is enough room in the world for people to educate themselves on two completely different cultures and countries as well as us all taking on bigger issues of discrimination and racism that exist.

      • Natalie S says:

        @Leonor. Do you want to blame POC for their concerns not being taken seriously? Do you want to define what hoops they need to jump through? All this to speak up for William who has bragged about not preparing for his engagements?

        If William had a track record of being serious about his engagements, I would give him the benefit of the doubt. William is an irresponsible airhead and hopefully he learns something from this instead of getting upset at POC.

      • Ravine says:

        No one is saying that William, or anyone, should happily go around using “Chinese” and “Japanese” interchangeably.

        The issue is whether or not this was some kind of subtle hate crime, or a brain fart. I think most people would agree it was a brain fart.

        This is not like Ricky Gervais’s character saying “Chinese, Japanese… (shrug)” in Extras. We’re talking about a one-time, immediately-corrected, verbal typo!

        The language centre of the brain is not a flawless instrument and it never will be. For some reason, despite knowing the difference between the two, I almost always say “Hindi” instead of “Hindu” and vice-versa. But just because my *brain* gets confused by those two words, that doesn’t mean that *I* am confused, or that I don’t care about the difference.

        If he does this kind of thing frequently, then yeah, maybe that’s a sign of problems that need to be fixed. But one time? The only reliable conclusion we can draw from that is that he has a human brain.

      • Nic919 says:

        Lots of people here are oblivious to what micro aggressions are and frankly sound pretty racist. “Don’t make us have to think too hard about what we say or else we’re going to just stop bothering to care at all”.

  9. Loretta says:

    Maybe next time it would be better to prepare a little bit about the cultures that will be discussed.

  10. Tiffany says:

    As I am not of Asian descent, I read someone’s take on it who is, Lainey over at Lainey Gossip. She was upset and called it what it was and him out for being completely unprepared and it showed a high level of unprofessional behavior. And I agree 100% with her take.

  11. p says:

    I dont think it was racist or anything like that, he is just an airhead lol.

  12. Highlow says:

    According to the same reporter who was there she said William was ‘fantastic throughout, charming, engaging and diplomatic.’ One little slip which he corrected immediately shows he was aware of his error. Ignorant people are not even aware when they’ve said something ignorant, William doesn’t fall into this category.

    Everyone makes slips from time to time, even the most savvy politicians. Go through youtube and you’ll even find gaffes that Obama made!

    • notasugarhere says:

      He is at an event at The Japan House and he “slips up” about Chinese food? So many excuses for his intrinsic laziness and resentment over his role, which comes out at events like this.

      • Highlow says:

        The reporter that was there said he was engaging & diplomatic throughout, the slip had nothing to do with being lazy or unprepared. Even the best politicians slip up from time to time. Many on here have also given perfect examples of how slip ups has happened to them.

      • notasugarhere says:

        It had everything to do with being lazy and unprepared. William got by on what passes for charm for years; he’s still trying to get by on it and that time passed a long time ago.

        Go back and read up on the flubs he made during his Japan and China trips a year or two ago. Or the Canada trip where he didn’t even bother to learn the charity he was visiting was a branch of a Diana charity he has co-opted at home. He never learns because people do not hold him accountable.

      • Addie says:

        The reporters all fawn over whatever royal they are covering, because, ongoing access. They are little more than shills.

  13. Beth says:

    Just a mistake from not being prepared, not racist. I don’t always know if something is Chinese or Japanese food, but I would study a little if I had to appear at a culture center

  14. manda says:

    I think this is a stupid person mistake more than a racist mistake. Do we know if Wills is well-read and/or intelligent?

    • Skylark says:

      I think it’s safe, at this stage, to say he is categorically neither well-read nor intelligent. None of them are, bar Charles who, at least, reads widely and is interested in ideas.

      And yes, very much a just-not-paying-attention mistake on William’s part. No malice intended, no agenda, no racism, no nothing other than William just having a momentary brain fart.

    • Addie says:

      William pays no consequences for anything he does, or has ever done, so he has no need to learn or improve. He was helped through his degree (mostly drunk, rarely attended) and someone will cover for him. Doesn’t appear to be interested in anything beyond his own needs.

  15. Becks1 says:

    It was an embarrassing mistake since he was opening a Japanese cultural center – I mean, COME ON WILLIAM. Do better!

    But I don’t think it means he’s this racist person who doesn’t care about Asian cultures (I mean, maybe he is….but we cant tell that from this interaction.)

    I’m glad to see he is finally stepping up – as I said yesterday, its nice to see.

  16. Veronica S. says:

    It’s a pretty minor verbal stumble, and an understandable one considering how many restaurants combine Asian cuisine in their menus. Unfortunately, it does reflect badly because of his social position. since it contributes to that narrative of Westerners being so ethnocentric they can’t delineate between Asian cultures.

  17. Starryfish29 says:

    It was a mistake, but it also showed that he probably doesn’t spend much time thinking about other cultures. Depending on your world view, that may or may not be offensive in and of itself.

    • ArtHistorian says:

      well, his circle of aristocratic friends think it great fun to host “colonial and natives” costume parties.

      He even characterized national dress at the annual diplomatic gala as though they were costumes for a fancy dress party – which is much more insulting. That was in an official video celebrating QEII’s 90 year birthday. However, it does reveal a mindset where other cultures are seen as a comic feature for him and his aristo pals.

  18. Natalie S says:

    I agree that it’s a sign of how disengaged he is and indicates a lack of seriousness about how he does his job. I think in his head he was at an Asian place doing an Asian thing and running out the clock. He approached it in an airheaded way and did an airheaded thing.

    I don’t know if his intention was racist so much as displaying a lack of maturity, curiosity and preparation -like he thought he could show up and wing it. The effect is racist though and it’s appropriate that he apologized. Hopefully he’ll learn to take his engagements seriously? He’s like a child being entertained at most of these things.

  19. spidee!!! says:

    What the heck is racist about saying one word when meaning another? He was not denigrating either cultures, he just momentarily said the wrong word, which we have all done in the past.

    There are plenty of things for criticising he for, but this is just not one of them. It is just spite for the sake of it.

  20. Civic says:

    Who can forget all of Philips racist comments, or Charles saying to a person they don’t look British, or Harry’s Nazi uniform/calling a fellow soldier a racist name/saying to a person they don’t sound black. If I were to rank this with what other members of the royal family have said & done, this latest gaffe would be near the bottom in comparison.

  21. Meg says:

    harry is much more natural with people isn’t he? i’m sure the kids were less talkative with cameras around too so it would be hard to hold a conversation on your own with quiet kids.

  22. Claire says:

    Why is the word racist even being brought up? FFS!

  23. SWP says:

    One time I was teaching to a large group at a medical event and instead of saying ‘Blood flow increases and the p engorges.”
    You guys know what male genitalia I am referring to right? ;)
    instead of saying that I said “blood flow increases and the p is gorgeous.”

    Trust me that was not what I was thinking subliminally, subconsciously, etc. I don’t find them gorgeous at all FWIW. ;)

    Mistakes happen. His just happen to be on a world stage.

    • Erinn says:

      I’d have died if I was in the audience, SWP. I wouldn’t have been able to keep a straight face.

      I’m pretty good at writing my thoughts out- when I’m really trying to be professional and get a point across I’m concise, focused, and usually pretty eloquent – my work emails are great. I do, however, misspeak. It’s not that I’m not focused or engaged with what I’m doing – it’s almost as if my brain is moving a little faster than my mouth I guess, and words get substituted. Sometimes it’s barely ‘off’ but other times it’s full on swaps of unrelated words. I’m not saying it happens at an alarming rate or in a way that I should be concerned with my brain health or anything, but it definitely happens. And it especially happens when I’m tired.

      • SWP says:

        The audience did crack up, Erinn! It was definitely pre #metoo and a lot of jokes were had at my expense. I laughed it off and didn’t beat myself up about it too much. A funny anecdote.

        And erinn, I too am losing my verbal acuity from what it once was. Not sure if it’s middle age or becoming more laid back in general. I will take my occasional struggle with word choice and memory over the anxiety and intensity of my brain in my 20s and early 30s. Not a fun place to be.

  24. Dinah says:

    I remember getting an eyeroll in Paris for saying grazie when I meant to say merci. A mistake’s a mistake, felt like like an idiot & an accidental racist for a minute, but life goes on.

  25. Sage says:

    It would not be an “odd bloop” if Meghan or Kate said it…just saying.

  26. SWP says:

    I love those bloopers they show and play on comedy radio of sports announcers and anchors, reporters etc saying accidental bad words. Meant to say fatal shooting instead said anal shooting. Cracks me up every time.

  27. someone says:

    There are some very perfect people on this site.. and some very offended people, even though the Japanese people at the cultural center don’t seem offended. Must be nice to never mess up:-)

    • Patty says:

      I think the point some people are trying to make is that this kind of flub is fairly common for William; and furthermore, he usually seems ill at ease and disengaged when doing this kind of stuff. That points to a broader problem for someone who is set to be a future King of the UK. I don’t think anyone is saying they are perfect. It’s sort of his job or rather one of the responsibilities of his role to do this sort of thing, he should be better at it by this point.

  28. Enough Already says:

    But Harry can do no wrong because reasons.

    • Mstak says:

      Classic B eating crackers scenario. When you want to like someone you will find every reason to and when you dislike someone nothing they do will ever be right.

      I’m Ukrainian and we frequently get called Russians. Which is not the same and In fact you could say they are currently enemies. But I don’t get mad– I do correct them. And explain that it’s not quite the same though I’m sure others notice more of the similarities than our differences.

  29. Henny says:

    Not a big deal, people make mistakes, he recovered. The more apparent issue is that William is not a people person. I’m not sure how well that will suit the monarchy in the future.

  30. Mego says:

    Yet Harry married a biracial woman and is said to get along very well with her mother who is a woc…I’d say he working on his racism to say the least.

    William’s slip was not an intentional racist act but a reflection of the racist tendency of non Asian’s to lump all Asian cultures together and not put a lot of thought and care into learning otherwise. It’s a racism born of carelessness and laziness more than anything and I have been guilty of it to some degree. It is not helpful for us to minimize it’s impact either because we cannot understand how it feels.

    When Engaging with persons from a different race and culture as part of your job, like William did, professionalism dictates that you must be on your toes, prepared and to think carefully before you open your mouth. Hopefully William has enough humility and empathy to take this seriously and learn from it.

  31. Lady D says:

    I’ve been aware of William since his birth, and I can honestly say that humility and empathy are 2 words I would never associate with William. Especially the humility part, the guy practically radiates arrogance.

Commenting Guidelines

Celebitchy aims to be a friendly, welcoming site where people can discuss entertainment stories and current events in a lighthearted, safe environment without fear of harassment, excessive negativity, or bullying. Different opinions, backgrounds, ages, and nationalities are welcome here - hatred and bigotry are not. If you make racist or bigoted remarks, comment under multiple names, or wish death on anyone you will be banned. There are no second chances if you violate one of these basic rules.

By commenting you agree to our comment policy and our privacy policy

Use the "Report this comment as spam or abuse" link to ask the moderators to delete a comment if it's offensive. If your comment disappears, it may have been eaten by the spam filter. Please e-mail cbcomments at gmail.com to get it retrieved.

You can sign up to get an image next to your name at Gravatar.com Thank you!

Leave a comment