Prince Charles

Charles embroiled in rapidly growing gay-sex scandal

By Ann Oldenburg, USA TODAY
Prince Charles is in the middle of a gay-sex scandal and media frenzy that just won't quit.

The heir to England's throne spent Sunday night just as he returned from a 10-day trip to India and the Persian Gulf holding what some in the British press referred to as "crisis talks" with son Prince William, companion Camilla Parker Bowles and other aides to determine the next step in quelling the story.

For the past week, newspapers have been trumpeting a story being told by former palace servant George Smith, 43, who worked for Charles for 11 years until 1997.

Smith says he witnessed a sexual incident involving Prince Charles and a former male royal aide. He says he recorded what he saw on an audiotape and gave the tape to Princess Diana. Now, the tape is in the hands of Paul Burrell, Diana's former butler.

Last month, Burrell began publicizing his tell-all book, A Royal Duty. He mentioned the tape and said that revealing its contents would rock the monarchy.

Newspapers pounced on the story, and the allegations began appearing on various Web sites.

But before London papers could report the story, Michael Fawcett, a former royal aide to the prince, got an injunction from the High Court. It prevented the British press from reporting the details of the lurid allegations.

As the media interest escalated throughout last week, Charles issued a lengthy denial Thursday: "This allegation is untrue," and it "did not take place."

In his statement, he mentioned that the claim comes from a former royal household employee who "has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and has previously suffered from alcoholism following active service in the Falklands."

It said the employee Smith had made charges in the past "which the police have fully investigated and found to be unsubstantiated." Smith also claims to have been raped by the same aide.

On Monday, a former valet, Simon Solari, who worked for Charles and Diana for 15 years, came to Charles' defense, telling London's Evening Standard that the allegations "simply could not be true."

Also on Monday, a spokeswoman at Clarence House, the prince's official London residence, said there were no plans to take any legal action and no plans for the prince to make any public comment.

The prince was spending Monday and Tuesday privately at his Highgrove estate; his first public engagement this week is set for Wednesday at a memorial service at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea.

Although some British press reports say the scandal is strong enough to leave a black mark on the monarchy, Charles' spokesman, Patrick Harrison, says the royal is "unruffled" by it all.