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Wednesday, 20 February, 2002, 00:05 GMT
Prince meets Blanchett at UK première
Prince Charles meets Cate Blanchett
The Prince of Wales met the film's heroine
The Prince of Wales has attended the London première of war drama Charlotte Gray, meeting star Cate Blanchett and a real resistance hero.

Set in Nazi-occupied France at the height of World War II, the film tells the story of a Scottish woman working with the French resistance in the hope of rescuing her lover.

The movie, which is released in the UK on Friday, is based on the best-selling novel by Sebastian Faulks.


It just makes me pray that my son never has to go through what these people went through

Cate Blanchett
Also in attendance was Nancy Wake, 89, who fought with the resistance in France, and was one of several female secret agents who inspired the film.

At the Odeon Leicester Square in London, the Prince of Wales told her: "You were so brave and a great example. It's lovely to meet you."

Mrs Wake, who has a clutch of medals for bravery including the George Cross, said later: "It was wonderful to meet him and I told him so."

Living in Paris during the Nazi invasion, Mrs Wake joined the resistance and later became a member of Britain's Special Operations Executive (SOE).

Husband killed

She worked as a saboteur and was involved in severing German lines of communication on D-Day.

Her French husband, Henri, was captured by the Nazis, who tortured and killed him after he refused to disclose her whereabouts.

The prince also spoke to Blanchett, 32, who plays a member of the resistance who fights to free her captured lover, an RAF pilot.

Resistance hero Nancy Wake and Cate Blanchett
Resistance hero Nancy Wake was an inspiration
Blanchett, who was wearing an ivory Christian Dior embroidered dress, earlier spoke of her admiration for women such as Mrs Wake.

"It is very humbling and a great honour to meet men and women who were so brave, you feel very grateful for all that they did."

The actress, who gave birth to a baby son, Dashiell, in December also added: "Working on the film made me realise that war is not something that happened in the 1940s and it just makes me pray that my son never has to go through what these people went through."

Co-stars including Michael Gambon also attended the première, the proceeds of which will go to the Prince's Trust charity to help disadvantaged children.

During the war the SOE, based in London, was responsible for sending agents - both male and female - behind enemy lines.

Agents never returned

It was set up in 1940 to provide a network of resistance in Nazi-occupied Europe, supplied by and controlled from England.

Churchill wanted Europe "set ablaze".

A total of 39 female agents, from all walks of life and nationalities, were sent into Nazi-occupied France, but 13 never returned.

Charlotte Gray had at one stage been tipped for Academy Awards, however it was snubbed when the nominations were announced recently.

It is the first film to emerge from a co-production alliance between FilmFour, in the UK, and top Hollywood studio Warner Bros.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's David Silitto
"It is a World War 2 romance, based on a best selling novel"
Screen writer, Jeremy Brock
"It had a strong woman at the heart of the story"
See also:

28 Dec 01 | Entertainment
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27 Nov 98 | Entertainment
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