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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 November, 2003, 14:41 GMT
Charles visits Chelsea Pensioners
Prince Charles
The prince returned from the Middle East on Sunday
The Prince of Wales has attended his first public engagement since returning to the UK from Oman.

The event comes amid media interest in allegations about Prince Charles by a former royal valet, which cannot be detailed for legal reasons.

The prince visited London's Chelsea Pensioners and took part in an act of remembrance for Britain's war dead.

The Drumhead service is held during the week because many pensioners are elsewhere on Remembrance Sunday.

Appeal patron

Charles was welcomed at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, in west London, by its governor, General Sir Jeremy MacKenzie.

He met pensioners, some of whom served in regiments of which he is colonel-in-chief.

The prince laid a wreath during the service, in Figure Court.

Charles has agreed to be the patron of the Royal Hospital's development appeal, which is aiming to raise 30m to replace the infirmary.

He was joined at the service by former Prime Minister John Major, who is also helping to raise hospital funds, and local MP Michael Portillo.

Mr Major said: "I think the hospital is wonderful, it is very valuable.

"One of the guys I was talking to a moment ago has been here for 17 years - imagine the experiences he must have had.

"It is a very special place this, the pensioners are astonishing men. It is a great privilege to be here."

Charles also visited the Royal Hospital Museum, the Long Wards, where the pensioners actually live, and the State Apartments.

Kenneth Hall, 78, a former Royal Engineer who has lived at the hospital for 10 years, said: "The prince was very inquisitive. He was asking me about my time here, whether I enjoyed it and what I thought of the hospital.

"I said I thought it was a wonderful establishment.

"It is nice to be able to answer questions from somebody of that standing. He was very down to earth."

The engagement comes a day after a judge banned a newspaper in Scotland from publishing details of the allegations against the prince.

Lord Brodie, sitting at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, granted an interim interdict to prevent The Mail on Sunday from publishing north of the border the claims made by former Royal valet George Smith.

The case against the paper was brought by Prince Charles's former aide Michael Fawcett.

However, Lord Brodie's decision came too late to stop The Sunday Herald running the story.

The Sunday Herald said that an injunction preventing publication of the allegation by the former Royal servant only applied in England and Wales.


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