Prince Charles strapped on his biggest, clunkiest pair of boots and plonked his foot right into the hottest geopolitical debate of the moment when he told a former Polish war refugee whom he met while on a walkabout at a war museum in Nova Scotia, Canada, that Russia’s Vladimir Putin was behaving not unlike Adolf Hitler in his annexation of Ukraine.
Although the remark was a private comment, it has caused shock in the UK, as the royal family (unlike Hilary Clinton) are very much not supposed to express opinions on political matters.
It’s a particularly grievous mistake for Charles because he is taking over more and more of his mother’s powers and responsibilities in preparation for his own reign.
The remark was allegedly made to Marienne Ferguson, who was speaking after meeting Prince Charles at a Nova Scotia immigration museum where she works.
As they discussed Hitler’s takeover of countries, the prince “said something to the effect of ‘It’s not unlike...what Putin is doing,’” she told the Daily Mail.
Clarence House said it would not comment on a private conversation.
The reported remarks may cast something of a pall over Prince Charles’s next big foreign assignment—D-Day anniversary celebrations in France next month, alongside the Russian president.
Ferguson left Poland for Canada just prior to the Nazi occupation with her parents and two sisters, but other members of her family were sent to Nazi camps, the Daily Mail reported.
“He [Prince Charles] asked when I came to Canada, I told him 1939,” Ferguson told the Mail.
They had discussed how “Hitler was going into different countries and taking them over.”
She added that she could not “exactly remember” the phrase the prince had used, but he then “said something to the effect of ‘It is not unlike what is now happening in Russia, what Putin is doing.’”
“But it was only a moment... It was a very short remark.”
“I agreed—you know, he [Putin] is taking countries the same as Hitler did.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg defended the prince over his comments, saying it was “clearly a private conversation.”
He told BBC Breakfast: “I have never been of this view that if you are a member of the Royal Family somehow you have to enter into some Trappist vow of silence.”