Charles snubbed China in 1997: Former aide | india | Hindustan Times
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Charles snubbed China in 1997: Former aide

Britain's Prince Charles stayed away from a state banquet given by former Chinese president Jiang Zemin as a "deliberate snub" to Beijing and its policies.

india Updated: Feb 22, 2006 01:00 IST
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Britain's Prince Charles stayed away from a state banquet given by former Chinese president Jiang Zemin as a "deliberate snub" to Beijing and its policies, the High Court in London heard on Tuesday.

The heir to the throne decided to boycott the banquet after attending Hong Kong's handover to China in 1997, according to the prince's former aide Mark Bolland, backing reports published in a British newspaper last year.

The revelations came as Charles brought legal action -- an unusual move for a royal -- against the Mail on Sunday on breach of confidentiality and copyright charges.

The tabloid, owned by Associated Newspapers, revealed extracts from the prince's private journals, including one called "The Handover of Hong Kong, or The Great Chinese Takeaway", which criticised Chinese government officials.

Bolland testified: "The prince chose not to attend the return state banquet at the Chinese embassy but to attend instead a private dinner at his home with Camilla Parker Bowles (now his wife) and close friends."

"He did this as a deliberate snub to the Chinese because he did not approve of the Chinese regime, and is a great supporter of the (exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the) Dalai Lama, whom he views as being oppressed by the Chinese."

The prince was aware of the function's political and economic importance, Bolland said, but he "wanted to make a public stand against the Chinese... We tried to persuade him to attend but to no avail."

Bolland, whose written evidence for the Mail on Sunday Charles had tried to prevent being made public, revealed that the prince thought it was part of his duty to campaign on contentious issues and influence opinion.

He saw himself as a "'dissident' working against the prevailing political consensus", and wanted to speak out if he objected about certain issues or government policies.

The former royal official said the prince's speeches and letters on such matters were often circulated around his office for staff to read, including bundles of letters denouncing elected leaders of other countries.

"We used to try to stop the prince writing these political letters in the first place and, given that they were being written, also tried at least to stop them being circulated round the office because of the obvious risk of embarrassing leaks," he added.