What is it about the Windsor's that sets them up time and again as media bait? Some would say that it is in their genes. Prince Charles had earlier become an object of ridicule in 1993 when a paper intercepted a phone call in which he allegedly told lover Camilla Parker Bowles things that we choose not to print. Last weekend, the Prince returned to Britain from a trip to India and the Middle East only to face what may be another rough patch on his ascension to the throne.
This time it was allegations on his sexuality that ironically enough have been fueled mostly by his own one-time press advisor Mark Bolland who told the News of the World newspaper that Sir Michael Peat, Charles' private secretary had asked him a year ago: "Do you think Charles is bisexual?" Bolland replied that he was astonished at Sir Michael's question and that he had told Peat emphatically The Prince was not gay or bisexual.
Bolland has since gone on to criticize the palace's handling of the crisis as "bizarre" and said that they should have been treated as such by Clarence House. "But instead of laughing them off - which is what I always did with this story, the palace reacted in a bizarre way that made them headline news all over the world." He described the move as "an unrivalled public relations disaster".
This mess was further complicated by Peat who went on television on Thursday to admit that the prince was at the center of the allegations, while categorically denying that any "incident" had happened.
Speculations are ripe in Britain, where the media is restricted by a court order banning publication of this potentially libelous information. The British public has had to settle for overseas coverage for details of the incident. Prince Charles's ex-valet, Michael Fawcett, was responsible for a court injunction to stop the allegation being printed by the Mail on Sunday newspaper last week.
The banned allegation comes from a former palace servant, George Smith, who had sparked an earlier scandal by saying another male servant had raped him many years before. An investigation found no evidence to support that charge.
also said that Smith - a military
veteran who has a history of mental-health problems and alcoholism
- had recorded both his rape charge and the allegation that he witnessed an
incident involving Prince Charles on a tape he gave to Princess Diana.
Meanwhile conjecture and innuendo are rife as former servants, aides and even a well-known republican have come to Charles defense. Former servant Simon Solari said that the allegations made by Smith "simply could not have happened" because he would not have had the access to Charles that he needed to have seen what he says he saw.
The News of the World had said Charles was planning to take part in "a full-scale" television interview to defend his reputation if full details of the allegations were published.
Newspaper reports had suggested that Prince Charles had instructed lawyers to consider taking legal action against the former servant making the allegation. There were also rumors that he may make a television appearance to quash the issue.
But Clarence House - the prince's official residence - denied this was the case on Monday. "There are no plans to take any legal action, and the prince has no plans to make a television appearance," a Clarence House spokeswoman said. "The statement we made on Thursday still very much stands," she added.
Return to Our Country, Vol. I