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Sunday, 10 November, 2002, 14:55 GMT
Q&A: Royal revelations

A former valet for Prince Charles has spoken publicly about allegations he was raped by a colleague. The BBC's royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell looks at what impact this and the very public disclosures by former butler to Princess Diana, Paul Burrell, have had on the Royal Family.

How has the palace reacted to these allegations?

The palace is saying nothing officially about them.

Unofficially though they are indicating that if the former royal valet George Smith does have a new complaint or new evidence then he must take it to the police rather than to a tabloid newspaper.

Remind us what the palace have said previously?

The palace is not adding to its chronology of this whole incident that it published a few days ago.

In it the palace said that when these matters first came to light in 1996 they were fully investigated first by the palace and Mr Smith indicated at that stage that he did not wish to take the matter any further.

Then when the allegations resurfaced in the course of the Paul Burrell investigation by police, the alleged perpetrator volunteered to be interviewed by police and subsequent to that it was a joint decision by police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the director of public prosecutions that there was no point - there was no evidence to go forward to a prosecution.

What kind of impact do such revelations have?

It has not of course been a good week for the palace.

The whole business I think has left the impression of many unanswered questions, it has left the impression that it has not been well-handled and that is corrosive to the long term image of the monarchy of course.

And these allegations just keep on coming don't they?

They do. They are selling newspapers. Newspaper editors are quite candid about that.

Circulations have been up in this past week and of course for the palace that is an ominous sign, an indication that so long as circulation is going to be helped by these lurid headlines, the newspapers will continue to search for them.


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