Hasan Suroor

LONDON: Embarrassing details of Prince Charles's political views on contentious issues of the day have come out in the open for the first time after he failed to prevent them from being made public.

These include claims that the heir to the British throne sees himself as a "dissident'' working against the prevailing political consensus and is in the habit of expressing "extreme'' views not only about politicians at home but "elected leaders of other countries.'' The claims are made by his former deputy private secretary and one of his closest aides Mark Bolland in a witness statement in the High Court which is hearing a case filed by the Prince against The Mail on Sunday for publishing extracts from his private journal.

In a 10-page statement, which has made headlines in the British media, Mr. Bolland said the Prince's views had often been regarded with "concern by politicians''. "... we [the Prince's staff] would be contacted by them and on their behalf, private secretaries to Government Ministers would often let us know their views and, typically, how concerned they were,'' the statement said.

Damaging claim

It claimed that the Prince often wrote letters to Ministers and other people in positions of power that were "not merely routine and non-controversial ... but written at times in extreme terms''.

The most damaging claim relates to the Prince's decision, according to the statement, to boycott a banquet at the Chinese embassy during a state visit by the then Chinese President, Jiang Zemin, to Britain in 1999.

"The Prince chose not to attend a return banquet at the Chinese embassy but to attend instead a private dinner at his home with Camilla Parker Bowles and friends. He did this as a deliberate snub... I was given a direct and personal instruction by the Prince to draw to the media's attention his boycotting the banquet,'' Mr. Bolland claimed.