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Tuesday, 12 November, 2002, 10:22 GMT
Prince 'considers' Burrell inquiry
Prince Charles and Queen
Prince Charles and the Queen are under pressure
Prince Charles is under pressure to order an independent inquiry into the collapse of the Paul Burrell trial and allegations of an alleged rape at the royal household.

The Royal Family has been subjected to more than a week of blanket coverage in the tabloids, following Mr Burrell's acquittal on charges of theft.

A spokeswoman for Prince Charles told BBC News Online: "We are considering a number of options."

Mail on Sunday
Press coverage has plagued the Royals

BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said one of these was a public inquiry.

"It would have to look at whether the Royal Family had any role in the collapse of the Paul Burrell trial," he said.

"Whether the Queen is interviewed or Prince Charles is interviewed is unclear.

"We also don't know if the Queen's papers might be looked at to establish if she continued to be at arms-length in this trial and didn't receive any briefings."

He added: "The fact this is one of the options is an indication of how seriously they view the last eleven days of continuous headlines."

Revelations

Any investigation is likely to be chaired by a member of the judiciary or high-ranking civil servant.

It would be the first time that an outsider has been called upon to investigate conduct of the royal family.

Diana's former butler Paul Burrell had been accused of stealing hundreds of her belongings.

The prosecution's case fell apart when the Queen suddenly recalled that Burrell informed her of his intention to hold some items in safekeeping.

Chat shows

Since then, Burrell has gone public with revelations about his years in royal service, prompting others to do so, notably former valet George Smith who claimed he was raped in 1989 by a senior male aide to Prince Charles.

Mr Smith, who accused Charles of covering up the affair, has contradicted the Palace's statement that Mr Smith had not wanted to pursue charges.

The man accused of raping Mr Smith has labelled the allegations as "wholly untrue."

Burrell is currently in New York with his family, where he is undertaking a circuit of highly-lucrative US chat shows.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"The Prince of Wales is said to be deeply dismayed"

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10 Nov 02 | UK
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