Prince Charles tries a pair of Google glasses to use
software developed at an innovation centre in Winnipeg,
Manitoba. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
Prince Charles's comparison of Russian President Vladimir
Putin with Adolf Hitler triggered a diplomatic row when Moscow
scolded the heir to the British throne for what it said was an
outrageous attempt to sully Russia's reputation over Ukraine.
During a trip to Canada, the 65-year-old prince told a Jewish
woman who fled from Poland during World War Two that in
Ukraine "Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler",
according to the Daily Mail newspaper.
Charles's remarks, described by a royal source as
"well-intentioned" and not meant to be made public, caused a
stir in Britain because the royal family is not expected to
voice political views in public.
"If these words were truly spoken, then, without doubt, they
do not reflect well on the future British monarch," a
spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry told a news
"We view the use of the Western press by members of the
British royal family to spread the propaganda campaign
against Russia on a pressing issue - that is, the situation
in Ukraine - as unacceptable, outrageous and low."
Russian diplomats were seeking an official explanation over
the remarks, which are especially emotive for a country that
lost more people than any other in World War Two.
But the British Foreign Office said it had told a senior
Russian official in London on Thursday that it would not
comment on reports of private conversations.
Putin, a former KGB spy who has repeatedly spoken about the
sacrifices of what Russians call the Great Patriotic War,
lost a brother in the Nazi siege of Leningrad.
The Soviet Union lost more than 20 million people in the war
and the victory over Nazi Germany is celebrated across Russia
as a national triumph.
But Putin's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea province has
prompted some Ukrainian protesters and even some Western
politicians to make comparisons between the 61-year-old
Russian president and the actions of Hitler.
Former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton had to clarify
remarks in March suggesting Putin's justification for his
incursion into Crimea to protect ethnic Russians was
reminiscent of claims made by Hitler over foreign
HEIR TO THE THRONE
It was not the first time that the man destined to be king
has taken British politicians and royal watchers by surprise.
In a private diary that was leaked, he once described the
Chinese Communist leadership as "appalling old waxworks".
Queen Elizabeth, Charles's 88-year-old mother, has never
aired any such emotive sentiments in public, though her
husband, Prince Philip, is famous for a host of unusually
blunt comments and off-the-cuff remarks.
"This was a private conversation and we are not exactly sure
what was said. It certainly wasn't meant to be a diplomatic
intervention," said Clarissa Campbell Orr, historian of the
monarchy at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.
"But this is a very sensitive issue for Russia. We know the
Russians are offended but the prince was not making an
official statement. That is all we can really be certain of."
Prime Minister David Cameron, who has scolded the Kremlin for
annexing Crimea and supporting pro-Russian rebels in eastern
Ukraine, declined to comment on Charles's reported remarks.
When asked whether it was appropriate to compare Putin with
Hitler given that one of Putin's brothers had died in
Leningrad, Cameron said: "I am not going to comment someone's
private conversation, least of all Prince Charles."
A spokeswoman for Charles's office said they did not comment
on his private conversations.
The Foreign Office said later on Thursday that one of its
senior officials had met Russia's deputy ambassador,
Alexander Kramarenko, who had sought an explanation of
But it added in a statement: "In response to Mr Kramarenko's
representations, the (official) said that the Foreign Office
could not be expected to comment upon reports of private
conversations, and restated the government's hope that ...
Russia would step back from comment or actions provoking
instability in Ukraine."