London, Nov. 10 (Reuters): Britain’s future king, Prince Charles, today ruled out making a special television appearance to deny a growing tide of rumour that he was once involved in a sexual incident with one of his servants.
Speculation about an address to the nation had grown as newspapers in Scotland and Ireland published details of the rumour over the weekend, bringing to Britain’s doorstep an allegation that has already been aired in continental newspapers.
So far, English newspapers have obeyed a legal injunction not to reveal the rumour.
The prince, who returned from a two-week overseas trip yesterday, is spending two days at his country estate in the west of England, conferring with his advisers about how to counter an allegation that his aides say is absurd.
His office said today he was not planning either to take legal action or to go on television to add to a stern rebuttal of the rumour issued in his absence last week.
“The prince has no plans to make a television appearance. The statement we made on Thursday still very much stands,” said a spokeswoman. “There are no plans to take any legal action.”
The prince was spending today and tomorrow privately at his Highgrove estate, with his first public engagement due on Wednesday at a Remembrance service at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, she added.
The latest scandal to rock the House of Windsor began 10 days ago when Charles’ former personal aide Michael Fawcett was granted a legal injunction preventing the Mail on Sunday publishing the charges by former palace servant George Smith.
The News of the World asked on its banner headline yesterday “IS CHARLES BISEXUAL'” — a question it answered several paragraphs later in small type: “emphatically NOT”.
Initial speculation involved very vaguely a palace aide and a senior royal in an unspecified incident, but in a bizarre twist last Thursday Charles identified himself as the royal.
“I just want to make it entirely clear, even though I can’t refer to the specifics of the allegation, that it’s totally untrue and without a shred of substance,” his private secretary Sir Michael Peat said.
That opened the floodgates as the rumours grew not only in number but in often lurid detail — sparked in part by the suggestion that the rebuttal had contained enough pointers to indicate the nature of the original allegations.
Smith, a Falklands War veteran, has previously claimed that he was raped by another royal servant — claims that were discredited upon investigation.
But the rumours refused to go away and were fuelled by Paul Burrell, former butler to Charles’ late ex-wife Princess Diana who was killed in a Paris car crash in 1997, in a reference in his top selling book to a secret recording of both allegations.
The scandal is a new blow to the beleaguered British royals whose reputation was tarnished by their failure to reflect public anguish after Diana’s death but which looked on the road to recovery during Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee last year.