Working through diplomatic channels, Russia is demanding the British government give an explanation for Prince Charles’ comparison of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Hitler. The Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday that the Russian Embassy contacted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) seeking is an urgent meeting to clarify whether Prince Charles’ remarks were an “official position.”
The Daily Telegraph quotes an unnamed senior Russian diplomatic source as having said, “We are seeking clarification at a working level. It’s not clear if it is an official position. The response from Clarence House is it was a private talk. We hope there is nothing behind it. But it is unclear to us: What does it mean? He is the future King, after all.” The diplomat added, “It is very serious. Every family in our country lost someone in that war” against Hitler.
According to the Daily Mail, Russia’s minister counselor in London, Alexander Kramarenko, is to go to the FCO. The Mail quotes Kramarenko saying, “We view the use of the Western press by members of the British Royal Family to spread the propaganda campaign against Russia on a pressing issue — that is, the situation in Ukraine — as unacceptable, outrageous and low.”
One Russian business magazine, business-ru.com, made the relevant point that the “geriatric Prince of Wales, the oldest heir in the history of Great Britain, who failed to control himself and follow etiquette” should be reminded that “his great-uncle, Edward VIII clearly sympathized with the Nazis.”
The question being asked is whether Charles will make another big show during the 70th anniversary of the D-Day ceremonies in France on June 6, when he will share the same reviewing stand as Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It should be noted that Charles is no longer simply the embarrassment of the Royal Family. In recent months the Queen has announced that she was withdrawing from many of her official duties, especially overseas visits, which will now be turned over to Charles. So his visit to Canada could be seen as an official visit by a Head of State. Also, the Queen marked the visit by appointing Prince Charles to the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada. The last Royal given that appointment was 57 years ago when his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, was named to the Council.
Some Call for Prince Charles To Abdicate, While Government Supports His Right To Comment
Prince Charles’ remark that Russian President Vladimir Putin is acting like Hitler, have provoked reactions ranging for calls for his abdication, to support for his ostensible right to make “private comments.” Members of the Royal Family are not supposed to comment on political affairs of state, especially on matters of sensitive international affairs.
Labour MP Mike Gapes, currently a member and formerly chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, said the Prince should have kept his views private. “If Prince Charles wants to make controversial statements on national or international issues, he should abdicate and stand for election,” Gapes said on his Twitter page. “In a constitutional monarchy, policy and diplomacy should be conducted by Parliament and government. Monarchy should be seen and not heard.” Gapes added that the normal “free speech” argument did not apply to Prince Charles. “If you are heir to a throne or monarch what you say matters,” he said. “It is for Parliament and government to use appropriate language to condemn illegal annexation of Crimea. Prince should stop freelance foreign policy.”
The UK Independence Party’s Nigel Farage is reported to have said: “There are times when it might be better for Prince Charles not to get involved in things like this.”
Interestingly, those who defended the Prince, used the occasion to jump in with all four feet and defend the content of his remarks, not the fact that it was inappropriate for him to have made them.
In contrast, Labour Party Chairman Ed Miliband told Sky News: “I think lots of people across the country will share Prince Charles’ concern about President Putin and his actions in Ukraine. I think it’s also the case that Prince Charles should be entitled to have private conversations with an individual and those are private conversations … and I think he is absolutely entitled to say that there are real concerns about that.” Miliband’s brother, David, was the loyal Foreign Secretary to the Royal favorite Tony Blair.
Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron simply told Radio 4’s program “The World at One,” “Everyone is entitled to their private views.” But Liberal Democrat leader, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, said Charles should be “free to express himself” and went on to attack Putin as “not only menacing to Ukraine, but it is very destabilizing for Europe more generally.”
By contrast, Sir Tony Brenton, who served as Britain’s ambassador to Moscow from 2004-2008 said: “Russia is having quite a nationalist moment, but the judgment that Putin is behaving like Hitler, is very mistaken. The annexation of Crimea was entirely illegal and wrong, but to say that that leads us in the direction of a revanchist Russia — the bear being on the prowl again — is a grotesque exaggeration.” He told the BBC: “You can’t be much more insulting about a Russian than to compare them to Hitler, who killed 26 million Russians. I suspect he will be rather angered.”