Saturday, November 7, 1998 Published at 11:24 GMT
Palace approved abdication claims says LWT
Welcome distraction: Prince Charles with Bulgaria's president
A senior Palace aide gave the go-ahead for a documentary to claim that the Prince of Wales wants the Queen to abdicate, the TV company LWT has said.
The television company said four briefings had been held with the Buckingham Palace official and all the main topics of the programme, including abdication, were discussed and approved.
LWT is standing by its production but is considering adding the prince's complaints to the programme.
She said: "The question of abdication was raised with the senior palace aide this week.
"It would have been brought up in the briefing, reiterated twice and checked again this week.
"None of it was refuted."
In the rare statement issued jointly on Friday by Buckingham and St James's Palaces, Prince Charles moved quickly to dissociate himself from the contents of an LWT press release about the programme.
He rejected the suggestion that he would be privately "delighted if the Queen were to abdicate".
The prince said: "The claims made in LWT's press notice are not only deeply offensive but completely wrong. They in no way reflect my views."
LWT's press release also said that the programme will assert that even if Prince Charles marries Camilla Parker Bowles, she will never become Queen.
The programme also says:
Prince's biographer astonished
Prince Charles's biographer, Jonathan Dimbleby, came to the prince's defence, saying the abdication claim was "quite fantastic".
Earlier, the historian and royal biographer, Professor Ben Pimlott, told BBC Radio that although he understood the prince's anger, he thought abdication was not a bad idea.
"There is certainly, in my view, quite a strong case for the Queen announcing that at a certain age she will indeed retire in a dignified way."
Saturday's press devoted much front page coverage to the issue.
The Sun newspaper editorial expressed sympathy with the prince, who recently issued a joint statement with long-time friend Camilla Parker Bowles denying allegations about his marriage to Princess Diana published in a new book.
Its rival The Mirror took a tougher line, saying his aides "would not dream of sounding off if he had not given them the OK".
The Daily Telegraph said the TV documentary had "touched a very raw nerve" at the palace and that LWT had "committed royal blasphemy".
As newspapers in Britain debate the abdication reports, Prince Charles continues his three-day visit to Bulgaria.
On Saturday he was guest of honour at a gypsy wedding of a Christian bride and a Muslim groom in Plovdiv, Bulgaria's second city.
He studiously ignored journalists' questions about the LWT programme.
According to BBC Court Correspondent Jennie Bond, tours like this are an important part of the prince's work, a role in which - as he has emphatically made clear - he is happy to continue.