• Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton visited the Ukrainian Cultural Center in London Wednesday
  • The prince told volunteers that a war in Europe was "alien to see," a report says
  • His comment quickly sparked criticism on social media, with Bernice King calling it "horrific"

Prince William is facing backlash online for making comments that some have deemed "ignorant" during a visit to the Ukrainian Cultural Center in London Wednesday.

The Duke of Cambridge and his wife Kate Middleton paid a visit to the center this week to meet with volunteers, who were filling trucks with aid to support the humanitarian relief effort following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"It's very alien to see this in Europe. We are all behind you," Prince William was quoted as telling volunteers by The Independent, referring to the Russia-Ukraine war. "We feel so useless."

The royal's reported comment quickly sparked criticism on social media.

The Independent's race correspondent Nadine White tweeted that Prince William suggested "it's rather normal to see war and bloodshed in Africa and Asia but not Europe" with his comment.

Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., called the duke's comment "horrific."

"European people ran roughshod over the continent of Africa, pillaging communities, raping women, enslaving human beings, colonizing for profit and power, stealing resources, causing generational devastation. And European nations continue to harm Africa," she tweeted.

Activist Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, for her part, slammed Prince William's comment as "deeply offensive" and called on the royal to apologize.

"This future King of England parrots racist rhetoric shamelessly," she continued. "His caucacity after public backlash at Western media humanizing White pain while dehumanizing Black/Brown pain in the Ukraine War is a slap to our faces."

A number of people pointed out that two major world wars were fought in Europe and that several conflicts have taken place on the continent since Prince William was born — including the Kosovo War from 1998 to 1999, and the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014.

One Twitter user noted that Prince William's mother, Princess Diana, visited war-torn Bosnia after conflict waged between the joint force of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a former republic of Yugoslavia, and Croatia and Serbia, from 1992 to 1995.

"Unsurprised to see backlash against Prince William's ignorant remark (reported by @PA)," royal correspondent Omid Scobie, co-author of "Finding Freedom," tweeted. "Europe has seen some of the bloodiest conflict in the past two centuries—Balkans, Yugoslavia, Germany and Kosovo, to name a few. But sure, let's normalize war and death in Africa and Asia."

Some came to Prince William's defense, with one user tweeting: "He is not quoted as mentioning Asia or Africa. Just that the current situation is 'alien.' [And] given there's a superpower with nukes tearing up the European order, he'd be correct."

"What he meant is that it's close to them geographically. Also, we know they met the Ukrainian president so that feels closer to home. We should try to advocate for peace, not always spin things in a bad way," another claimed.

"Haters will always manipulate words their way in an attempt to make [William] look bad," another Cambridge fan claimed.

"It's been taken out of context. He spoke about the unity between the European countries due [to] this war. This has never been seen before," a different user suggested.

CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D'Agata was previously criticized for making similar comments, saying Ukraine was "relatively civilized" compared to countries in the Middle East, reported.

"This isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades," D'Agata said on air. "This is a relatively civilized, relatively European — I have to choose those words carefully too — city, one where you wouldn’t expect that or hope that it’s going to happen."

The correspondent later apologized, saying, "I spoke in a way I regret, and for that I'm sorry."

The Duke of Cambridge made his controversial statement ahead of his Caribbean tour later this month.

Prince William and Middleton announced last month that they are going to the Caribbean for the first time. The tour will begin in Belize on March 19 and end in Jamaica on March 26. The royal couple will also visit the Bahamas during the week-long tour, Town & Country reported.

Prince William hopes the televised event will help propel the fight against climate change leading up to the COP26 summit in Scotland
Prince William hopes the televised event will help propel the fight against climate change leading up to the COP26 summit in Scotland POOL / Ian Vogler