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Royal aide questions sexuality of Prince Charles, report


November 10, 2003

LONDON — A senior aide to Britain's Prince Charles once questioned his sexuality, a newspaper reported Sunday, as rumours escalated about a mystery "incident" involving the heir to the throne.

The stories have intensified despite an unprecedented statement by Sir Michael Peat, Charles' private secretary, this week denying allegations of an incident whose nature was not revealed but which, according to press sepeculation, involved a former royal servant.

The prince's one-time press advisor Mark Bolland told the News of the World newspaper that Peat asked him a year ago: "Do you think Charles is bisexual?"

Bolland said: "I was astonished at Sir Michael's question. I told him that the prince was emphatically not gay or bisexual." Peat, however, was quoted in the News of the World as saying he had never asked Bolland a question in those terms, and declined to discuss if he had asked questions about Charles' sexuality.

Charles was due to fly back to Britain Sunday from a nine-day tour of India and the Middle East, and staight into an escalating row over the purported scandal.

The claims in the News of the World came after a week which began with former royal aide Michael Fawcett taking out an injunction against the Mail on Sunday newspaper, gagging it from publishing a story based on claims by another former servant George Smith.

By Thursday, with rumours continuing to surround the royal family, Peat went on television to admit that Charles was at the centre of them, but categorically denied that any "incident" happened.

The High Court last week slapped an injunction on the mass-circulation Mail on Sunday newspaper to stop it from publishing the details of the allegation.

Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth's former press secretary Charles Anson has said that she was consulted about the denial issued on behalf of her son Charles and approved it.

The News of the World said that Charles was planning to take part in "a full-scale" television interview to defend his reputation if full details of the allegations were published.

An official working for Charles described Peat as "Mr Transparent" with nothing to hide.

"He has already made clear that he spoke to the prince about the rumours circulating and it should not be any surprise that he would have first talked to Mark Bolland, who was then a senior member of staff, before approaching the prince," a spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman did not rule out a television appearance by the prince but said no plans had been made for an interview "to set the record straight".

The Mail on Sunday said in an editorial that royal advisers were to blame for failing to head off the controversy.

"They must stop acting in this bungling, panic-stricken fashion which has simply stimulated rumour, innuendo and gossip to the point at which they are uncontrollable," the paper added. –AFP

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