The latest public figure to find himself in the news for making a Nazi comparison is none other than Prince Charles, who on a visit to Canada made an offhand remark likening Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine to Hitler’s annexation of Poland. Charles, acting in an official capacity as a British royal, was touring an immigration museum in Halifax, Nova Scotia when he struck up a conversation with a volunteer there named Marienne Ferguson, who told him that her family had fled Poland before the Nazis invaded in 1939, the New York Post reports.
Ferguson, who volunteers at an immigration museum that Charles visited, said when she told Charles about her family background, he replied that Putin is doing the same thing as Hitler. Russia recently annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region.
According to NBC, the Prince of Wales’ people played down the significance of the statement, saying, “We don’t comment on private conversations but we would like to stress that the Prince of Wales would not seek to make a public political statement during a private conversation.”
Nazi comparisons are, in general, a dicey undertaking. In March, Hillary Clinton waded into the Nazi comparison minefield while speaking at a fundraiser, when she likened the passports being issued to Russians in Crimea to Nazi population transfers in which Germans living outside Germany proper were resettled within the country’s borders.
Let this latest incident serve as a reminder to public people of all stripes: It’s probably not a good idea to make Hitler analogies or Nazi comparisons, unless you’re prepared to back them up in the face of the inevitable onslaught of media scrutiny.