| Charles: Not welcome now
London, March 27: The Prince of Wales has been told by President George W. Bush not to visit the US for the time being as the Americans know that Prince Charles is “very much against this war”, an unimpeachable source confirmed today.
The source, one of the best informed in Britain about the royal family, said the Prince of Wales had spent much of his life striving to build up a better understanding of Islam.
To be sure, he has done nothing disloyal to the government and has carried out royal duties, including visits to families of British servicemen killed and injured in the war.
“These are his private views,” the source added.
“It is unthinkable that in the present situation, he can speak out. It would cause a constitutional crisis and he would be attacked from all sides. He would be torn apart by the papers which support the war.”
The source went on: “Prince Charles is in a weak position at the moment because of the recent highly critical Peat report into the running of his household. But there is no doubt about how he feels — he is completely against the war.”
There is a close link between the armed services and the royal family, the source pointed out. Prince Philip and Prince Andrew have served with the navy — the latter flew helicopters in the Falklands War.
Prince Edward, who is more artistically inclined much to his father’s sorrow, withdrew from the navy after a short stint.
Rumours of where Prince Charles stands on the war have been circulating for some time. The Mail on Sunday has already carried a front-page report that he had dropped plans to visit the US because the White House, apparently unhappy with his views on Iraq, had signalled he would not be welcome. The prince was due to go to the US in March.
The paper said “senior figures in the Bush administration” had indicated that it would be “very unhelpful” for the trip to proceed because of the prince’s reported concern that a war would lead to a dangerous rift between the West and the Muslim world.
“A week-long tour was in the diary for February or March 2003,” it quoted a senior British government official as saying.
“But the prince has been politely informed that his views on the current (Iraq) crisis might not go down well.”
The Mail on Sunday added that the British foreign office was concerned that a US visit by the heir to the British throne might be used by anti-war activists to drive a wedge between Bush and Blair, who held talks overnight at Camp David.
The foreign office took the line that it could not confirm Charles’ overseas travel plans “so far ahead of time”.
The prince’s opposition to the war should be of no surprise to anybody as it would fit in with his stated views on the need to develop a more understanding and sympathetic attitude towards Islam.
In the British media, it has usually been pointed out that Iraq is not a “Islamic state” in the sense that, say, Saudi Arabia is. In fact, it is secular but brutal in its nature, the media have explained.
Earlier this year, Charles told 200 local dignitaries and guests at the Markfield Institute, a Muslim education centre, that understanding Islam had never been so important.
In a famous speech to the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies at the Sheldonian Theatre on October 27, 1993 — the centre was addressed by Sonia Gandhi last year — Prince Charles said: “It is odd, in many ways, that misunderstandings between Islam and the West should persist. For that which binds our two worlds together is so much more powerful than that which divides us.”
He went on: “There, however, is one root of the problem. For much of that history has been one of conflict; 14 centuries too often marked by mutual hostility. That has given rise to an enduring tradition of fear and distrust, because our two worlds have so often seen that past in contradictory ways.”
He said: “To Western schoolchildren, the 200 years of the Crusades are traditionally seen as a series of heroic, chivalrous exploits in which the kings, knights, princes — and children — of Europe tried to wrest Jerusalem from the wicked Muslim infidel. To Muslims, the Crusades were an episode of great cruelty and terrible plunder, of Western infidel soldiers of fortune and horrific atrocities, perhaps exemplified best by the massacres committed by the Crusaders when, in 1099, they took back Jerusalem, the third holiest city in Islam.”
Among the many titles Charles will have as King will be “Defender of the Faith”, since the British monarch heads not only the government but also the Church of England. But in a television documentary in June 1994, he declared his preference to be known as “Defender of Faith” rather than “Defender of the Faith” as a way of recognising Britain’s multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious population.
This provoked hostile speculation that he favoured the disestablishment of the Church of England.