Oprah ‘sorry’ for highlighting Swiss shop incident

Oprah Winfrey says she’s ‘sorry’ about the media frenzy that emerged after she said she had experienced racism during a trip to Switzerland.

“I think that incident in Switzerland was just an incident in Switzerland. I’m really sorry that it got blown up. I purposefully did not mention the name of the store. I’m sorry that I said it was Switzerland,” Oprah said, speaking at the premier of The Butler.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight, Oprah recalled a clerk at an upmarket Zurich boutique refusing to show her a handbag. She said she was told she could not afford the US$38,000 (£24,600) bag.

“I’m in a store and the person doesn’t obviously know that I carry the black card, and so they make an assessment based upon the way I look and who I am,” said Oprah, who earned US$77million (£49million) in the year ending in June, according to Forbes magazine.

“I didn’t have anything that said ‘I have money’: I wasn’t wearing a diamond stud. I didn’t have a pocketbook. I didn’t wear Louboutin shoes. I didn’t have anything,” she said on the red carpet. “You should be able to go in a store looking like whatever you look like and say ‘I’d like to see this.’ That didn’t happen.”

Swiss tourism officials and the boutique owner apologised for the incident last week, but Oprah insists there is no need.

“It’s not an indictment against the country or even that store,” she said. “It was just one person who didn’t want to offer me the opportunity to see the bag. So no apologies necessary from the country of Switzerland. If somebody makes a mistake in the United States do we apologise in front of the whole country? No!”

The Butler, directed by Lee Daniels and opening in the US on Friday, documents the civil rights movement through the story of a butler who served in the White House for seven presidents.