Lara Spencer Apologizes for Mocking Prince George's Love of Ballet on 'Good Morning America'

Prince George is back in school, and during a segment on Thursday's Good Morning America, anchor Lara Spencer detailed the royal's new curriculum. 

"Young Prince George, just six years old, heading back to school like so many kids around the world but unlike other kids his age, it sounds like the third in line to the throne is in for quite a demanding year," said Spencer. "In addition to the usual first or second grade things, like math, science and history, the future King of England will be putting down the Play-Doh to take on religious studies, computer programming, poetry and ballet, among other things."

Spencer paused after saying ballet as colleagues — including George Stephanopoulos — could be heard laughing in the background.  As a photo flashed up on the screen showing Prince George lying in the grass with his mouth agape in a laughing pose, Spencer quipped, "He looks so happy about the ballet class. Prince William says George absolutely loves ballet. I have news for you, Prince William: We'll see how long that lasts." 

Spencer was referring to Prince William's comments from last October when he was hosting a reception at Kensington Palace for inspirational teens. During the event, the father of three spoke to a 14-year-old dancer named Junior who had campaigned against bullying, per People. “George is doing dancing as well, he loves it,” Prince William said at the time. It's been widely reported that both George and younger sister Charlotte have been taking ballet with the full support of Prince William and wife Kate. 

Spencer's critical commentary caught fire on social media Thursday into Friday, with many taking to Twitter to express outrage that a young boy's love of dance was mocked by a national news anchor. 

"OK, Lara Spencer, seriously? Laughing at boys who take ballet?" posted Rosie O'Donnell in a video clip shared with her 1.1 million followers. "What's up with that? Come on, Lara Spencer. Please. I mean, [Mikhail] Baryshnikov, every Tony Award winner. It's ridiculous. It's like bullying on national TV. Boys who take ballet are cool and they'll entertain you." 

Legendary dance instructor, choreographer and performer Debbie Allen weighed in Friday afternoon by name checking famous men who have hit the dance floor. "Darling, you’re not on Saturday Night Live. You’re a respected media journalist. We expect to get our news, information and ideas from you. So, poking fun at the dance world, ballet and young boys, this is just not cool. Look at the great contributors to the world and society — men that have studied dance. Steve Jobs, hello. Bob Fosse, Christopher Walken, Dustin Hoffman, Patrick Dempsey, Norman Nixon, Herschel [Walker]. It's a long, long list. So, you owe not just the royal family but the dance world an apology for poking fun at something that we are very sensitive about because we don’t have enough money, enough opportunity in the arts for young people. We’d get more Steve Jobs if we had more ballet, less bullying."

Writer-performer Ben Rimalower called the comments "disgusting, homophobic bullying of a six-year-old," adding, "What year is it? Hello. Men do ballet. I'm sickened by the ignorance." 

TV host-performer Scott Nevins shamed ABC, GMA and Spencer, adding, "I don’t think Lara meant it maliciously, but casual homophobia and bullying are just as inexcusable. Shaming a boy for dancing is tired, and laughing at him for having taste shows that you have none."

As outlets from Broadway World to Dance Magazine fired back, defending the art form and George's well-rounded curriculum, many Twitter users demanded an apology from 50-year-old Spencer and the network. But she'd already delivered it, and in doing so, revealed that she took ballet classes in her youth. 

"My deepest apologies for an insensitive comment I made during pop news on Thursday," Spencer posted Friday on Instagram Stories. "From ballet, which I took as a kid, to anything in life you wish to explore, I fully believe we should all pursue our passion. Go climb your mountain — and love every minute of it." 

Prince George's ballet classes follow the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus and see the pint-sized students learn the art form while accompanied by a live pianist. When Prince William first revealed that his son had taken up the course, he said that his late mother, Princess Diana, "always used to dance, loved dance."

"If it's something you love, you do what you love and it's very important, don't let anyone tell you otherwise," William said at the time. "You keep at it."