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Last Updated: Friday, 7 November, 2003, 16:33 GMT
Charles continues tour amid claims
Prince Charles
The prince is currently in the Middle East

Prince Charles is in "a very positive frame of mind" after denying unspecified allegations against him, according to royal aides.

As the Prince of Wales continued his tour of Oman on Friday, a spokesman said: "He's not going to be distracted from that by what's happening in the UK."

The prince toured the Nakhal fort, outside Muscat, and joked to a waiting photographer: "I knew you'd be here. I can't do without you."

On Thursday Clarence House, his official residence, issued a statement that described the allegations, which cannot be published for legal reasons, as "ludicrous" and "untrue".

'High-risk strategy'

The denial came after the Guardian newspaper won a High Court battle to name Prince Charles' ex-valet, Michael Fawcett, as the person trying to stop the allegations being printed by the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

The claims were made by another former Royal servant, believed to be George Smith, who used to serve as a footman.

Royal watchers say the prince's denial marks a high-risk strategy in dealing with the allegations.

Dickie Arbiter, former press secretary to the Queen, said he thought the release of a statement had been a mistake.

He said: "Given the same scenario, I would have maintained a dignified silence. This should be nothing to do with them."

Mr Arbiter said that as the injunction was brought by a former employee, the Royal Family should have distanced itself from it.

Damage limitation

PR guru Max Clifford also criticised the Palace's move.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the decision was "not very clever" in terms of damage limitation.

"They have taken a rumour that a few hundred people were aware of and turned it into a rumour that millions of people are asking about," he said.

But speaking to BBC News 24, former Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd - a friend of Prince Charles' said he believed the right thing had been done in difficult circumstances.

Silence caused rumours to "grow and grow", he said, while publicly denying the allegations were true was bound to lead to "this kind of criticism".

Royal biographer Penny Junor agreed that it was quite sensible for Sir Michael to issue some kind of statement.

She said: "The allegations are so vile someone should put something in the public arena to counter that."

There has been speculation that full details of the allegations could appear in the British press over the weekend.

They have already appeared in an Italian newspaper and website.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"Prince Charles was determined not to be distracted, according to officials"


Sir Michael Peat, Prince Charles's private secretary
"I want to make it entirely clear that it's without a shred of substance"



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