Page last updated at 10:03 GMT, Thursday, 6 November 2008

Duchess defends undercover visit

The Duchess of York defends her orphanage visit

The Duchess of York has insisted that an undercover trip to Turkey did not undermine the Queen, or drag the Royal Family into a diplomatic row.

The Turkish government says the Duchess and her 18-year-old daughter Eugenie "smeared its image" after they secretly visited a state-run Turkish orphanage.

Viewers of ITV's Tonight programme can see Eugenie crying at the plight of abandoned children.

The Duchess said she was "happy with courage" to stand by the film.

The Duchess and Princess visited the Zeytinburnu Rehabilitation Centre in Istanbul, where Eugenie said the conditions endured by the children had "opened her eyes".

At a screening of the documentary , the Duchess was asked if it was right for members of the Royal Family to be taking part in a TV investigation.

The Duchess said she was not a member of the Royal Family, and that her daughter had not accompanied her to a second orphanage, where she wore a wig disguise.

Princess Eugenie and the Duchess of York
The Duchness said she 'went as a mum' to the orphanage

She added: "I would never in a million years believe myself to be political in any way, shape or form.

"I am apolitical and multi-faith. And I certainly support 100% Her Majesty, more than anyone else in my world."

She continued: "I went as a mum, and I went because those children are silent whispers.

"And quite frankly I'm very happy with courage to stand by that film."

On Tuesday, the Foreign Office distanced itself from the views expressed in the Duchess's broadcast and confirmed its commitment to Turkish accession to the EU.

A spokesman said the visit to Turkey was in a "private capacity".

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