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Last Updated: Friday, 18 November 2005, 15:50 GMT
Prince to sue over China diaries
Prince Charles
Charles wrote the comments during the 1997 Hong Kong handover
Prince Charles has launched legal action against Associated Newspapers over its publication of extracts from his diaries in the Mail on Sunday.

The journals were kept during the prince's official visit to Hong Kong for its 1997 handover to the Chinese.

Clarence House said lawyers believed the Mail on Sunday had breached the prince's copyright and confidentiality.

The newspaper has said it "came into possession of the text of the journal entirely legitimately".

The diaries included one comment in which Chinese diplomats were described as "appalling old waxworks".

Private journal

A statement from Clarence House said Prince Charles had "reluctantly" decided to take legal action against Associated Newspapers.

The prince's principal private secretary, Sir Michael Peat, said the breach had been made clear to the newspaper and the move was "a matter of principle".

Hu Jintao, Chinese president (archive picture)
The extracts were published soon after a UK visit by China's Hu Jintao

"Like anybody else, the Prince of Wales is entitled to write a private journal without extracts being published," he said.

"This journal was copied and passed to the Mail on Sunday without permission.

"We have made this clear to the Mail on Sunday on five occasions, both orally and in writing.

"Nevertheless, the Mail on Sunday proceeded to publish these extracts despite the knowledge that it was a breach of the Prince of Wales' copyright and confidence."

Royal run-ins

The Prince's journal - entitled The Handover of Hong Kong - or The Great Chinese Takeaway - described one ceremony as an "awful Soviet-style" performance and "ridiculous rigmarole".

He also allegedly dismissed a speech by then-Chinese President Jiang Zemin as "propaganda".

The prince is said to regularly write journals of his official visits, around 100 copies of which are then circulated to friends, relatives and contacts.

Details from the diary were published only days after an official visit to the UK by Chinese President Hu Jintao.

This is not the first time the Royal family has found itself in dispute with the UK press.

In November 2003, the Queen won a permanent injunction against the Daily Mirror, preventing it from publishing further details about journalist Ryan Parry's employment as a footman at Buckingham Palace.

Earlier this year, Prince Charles audibly voiced his dislike of facing the media at a photo call during his annual skiing holiday at Klosters in Switzerland and called BBC reporter Nicholas Witchell "awful".




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Footage of the Prince of Wales in Hong Kong



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