THE prince of Wales has sparked controversy after becoming embroiled in a row over whether a senior Royal should speak out on political affairs when he allegedly compared Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler.
Prince Charles is said to have made the comments on a four-day tour of Canada when he reportedly likened the actions of the Russian president to the notorious Nazi dictator. The heir to the throne apparently added his voice to international anger from the West at Russia’s actions in Ukraine when he spoke to a woman who fled the Nazis and lost family members during the Holocaust.
But he shrugged off the controversy yesterday by throwing paper planes at the media at Stevenson Hangar in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
His remark is said to have been made on a tour of the Museum of Immigration in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where the Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall paid tribute to Second World War veterans and their families. Jewish museum volunteer Marienne Ferguson told him 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.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband said that the Royal “has got a point” with his remarks, and that many Britons shared the Prince’s concerns about Mr Putin’s actions in Ukraine. However, the comment prompted one Labour MP to suggest Charles “should abdicate” if he wanted to speak out on political affairs.
Mike Grapes, the Ilford South MP, said on social networking website Twitter: “If Prince Charles wants to make controversial statements on national or international issues, he should abdicate and stand for election.
“In a constitutional monarchy, policy and diplomacy should be conducted by Parliament and government. Monarchy should be seen and not heard.”
But Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg backed Prince Charles’s right to express his opinions and said that there was no requirement for the royal family to adopt a “Trappist” vow of silence. The comments came just over a fortnight before Charles is due to meet Mr Putin at the commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy on June 6.
A spokesman for Clarence House added: “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.”