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Tuesday, November 10, 1998 Published at 00:03 GMT


Abdication controversy dogs Charles

The prince has been well-received in eastern Europe

The Prince of Wales has returned to the UK amid controversy that he wants the Queen to abdicate so he can become King.

The trip to the Balkams has been partly overshadowed by suggestions, made in an ITV documentary, that the Prince wanted the Queen to abdicate so that he could succeed as King.

But a close friend of the Prince has told the BBC's Panorama programme that the claims are false.

His old schoolteacher Eric Anderson said: "I remember being with him when the Press last raised the issue of abdication and he said to us, 'They must be mad'."

Nicholas Witchell: "Everyone will be secretly relieved when Prince Charles' 50th birthday is over"
The flagship current affairs programme Panorama has been given exclusive behind-the-scenes access to film the Prince of Wales in the run-up to his 50th birthday.

A number of the prince's friends and advisers have been interviewed for the documentary - Charles: A Life in Waiting - which will be shown on BBC ONE on Monday night.

The screening comes amid more controversy over the LWT documentary Charles at 50, which maintained the prince wanted his mother to abdicate

[ image: Prince Charles said abdication claims were 'ludicrous']
Prince Charles said abdication claims were 'ludicrous'
The programme makers say the prince is exasperated with attention on his private life and does not believe he has to define his relationship with long-time friend Camilla Parker-Bowles.

There has been fresh media speculation about the possibility of the couple formalising their relationship which was heightened by the newspaper serialisation of Penny Junor's book Charles: Victim or Villain?

Author defends her book

The book is published on Monday and Ms Junor has issued a statement to "put the record straight".

She denied writing a "vile and evil book" and said: "I have merely reported the facts as I found them and I do not apportion blame.

"I appreciate the sensitivity about speaking ill of the dead, and I am acutely aware of the need to protect William and Harry."

[ image: Penny Junor is standing by her book]
Penny Junor is standing by her book
Ms Junor said she began work on the book before Diana's death and thought "long and hard" about continuing after her death.

She said: "The public should be able to make an informed judgment about the man who will be sovereign.

"We have only ever heard one side of the story. I believe the people of Britain have a right to know more so that they can make up their own minds.

'Princes will be heartened'

"Far from being distressed, I believe Prince William and Prince Harry - for whom there are no surprises in this book - will be heartened to know that someone is prepared to speak up for the father they love."

Ms Junor said: "With no alternative explanation, people have had no choice but to believe that Charles never loved Diana, that he married her to produce an heir, carried on an affair throughout his marriage, that he and the Royal Family were cold and callous, and as a result she became seriously ill with bulimia.

"There are many people who even believe that if the prince had loved Diana she would not have been racing through the streets of Paris and would still be alive today.

"This is a gross distortion of the truth as seen by people who were there at the time, who knew both the prince and princess, who have long felt the prince has been unfairly blamed, and been frustrated by his silence."

'Queen is opposed to marriage'

Panorama will also reveal the Queen is opposed to Charles and Camilla marrying and she believes the public will never accept Charles as king with Camilla as his wife.

[ image: Camilla Parker Bowles: 'Public will never accept her']
Camilla Parker Bowles: 'Public will never accept her'
The programme quotes Buckingham Palace officials as saying the Queen will never abdicate and that the prince is not ready to become king because he needs time to resolve certain aspects of his life.

They are also reported as saying the prince dismisses any slimming down of the monarchy but does believe he can bring a new informality to the role.

For the first time the programme also filmed an investiture carried out by the prince in Buckingham Palace on 30 October, which shows him granting a knighthood.

Panorama Editor Peter Horrocks said: "The BBC has a responsibility to produce a credible and well-informed portrait of the future monarch at 50.

"Panorama will be broadcasting a portrait of the Prince of Wales that is properly balanced and extremely authoritative."

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09 Nov 98 | UK
Author says Charles 'secretly pleased'

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