THE Prince of Wales has compared the actions of Russian leader Vladimir Putin to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, it has been claimed.
Charles appeared to back growing international anger from the West at Russia’s actions in Ukraine during his tour of Canada when he spoke to a woman who fled the Nazis and lost family members during the Holocaust.
His remark came during a tour of the Museum of Immigration in Halifax, Nova Scotia, when the Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall paid tribute to Second World War veterans and their families.
Jewish museum volunteer Marienne Ferguson told the Prince that she fled to Canada with her family shortly before the Nazis annexed the Baltic coastal Free City of Gdansk in 1939.
After meeting Charles, Mrs Ferguson, 78, said: “The Prince said, ‘And now Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler’.
“I must say that I agree with him and am sure a lot of people do.
“But I was very surprised that he made the comment as I know they (members of the Royal Family) aren’t meant to say these things.
“I told the Prince that while my family and I were lucky to get a permit to travel, many members of my relatives had permits but were unable to get out before the war broke out on September 1.
“They were sent to the concentration camps and died.”
A spokesman for Clarence House said: “We do not comment on private conversations. But we would like to stress that the Prince of Wales would not seek to make a public political statement during a private conversation.”
Charles is due to meet Mr Putin in a few weeks when he attends the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy on June 6.
He and the Duchess are currently on a four-day tour of Canada.
Labour (Co-op) MP Mike Gapes, who represents Ilford South, condemned the Prince’s comments.
He said on Twitter: “If Prince Charles wants to make controversial statements on national or international issues he should abdicate and stand for election.
“In constitutional monarchy policy and diplomacy should be conducted by parliament and government. Monarchy should be seen and not heard.”
The comments are not the first time the Prince has commented on political affairs.
Letters he wrote to a number of government departments between 2004 and 2005 are the subject of a legal battle over whether what they contain should be disclosed.
The Guardian has been trying to make the letters public under the Freedom of Information Act and in September 2012 the High Court ruled in its favour.
The newspaper said the battle was being fought to shed more light ‘’on the way the heir to the throne seeks to influence government ministers even though he holds no elected position’’.
But Attorney General Dominic Grieve has attempted to block the release of the letters, claiming they undermine the principle of the heir to the throne being politically neutral.
In February the Prince spoke out about the winter flooding on the Somerset Levels, calling it a “tragedy” that “nothing happened for so long”.
In 2010 he attracted criticism for expressing strong opinions on a multimillion-pound plan for Chelsea Barracks.
He wrote to the chairman of developers Qatari Diar Real Estate, who is also the prime minister of Qatar, saying that his ‘’heart sank’’ when he saw the design by architect Lord Rogers.
Lord Rogers said he felt the Prince’s intervention was “wrong”.
Charles has also spoken out on environmental issues.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Charles was “free to express himself”.
“I have never been of this view that if you are a member of the royal family somehow you have to enter into some Trappist vow of silence,” he told BBC Breakfast.
“I think he is entitled to his views. But I don’t know whether those were his views because I just don’t think providing a running commentary on what were private conversations is useful to anybody.
“I don’t know exactly what he did or didn’t say in that conversation because he thought it was a private conversation.”
Asked if he agreed there were parallels to be drawn, he said: “I’m not going to start comparing one period of European history to another.
“People can make different comparisons from different periods of history if they wish. All I would say is that right now I think the behaviour of Putin is not only menacing to Ukraine but it is very destabilising for Europe more generally.
“That is why we continue to say to the Russians, continue to say to Vladimir Putin: step back, de-escalate. It’s not in Russia’s interests, let alone anybody else’s, to continue ratcheting up this tension.”