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Prince Charles starts India visit

Prince Charles
Prince Charles

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NEW DELHI, India (Reuters) -- Prince Charles arrived in India on Tuesday to support efforts to save the former British colony's ancient heritage and promote its young entrepreneurs, but his visit is being clouded by a new book on Princess Diana.

Shortly before his arrival in New Delhi, newspapers and TV ran pieces on "A Royal Duty,'' written by the late Diana's former butler, and its revelations of her fears of a plot to kill her and details of her private life.

"A swelling tide of sleaze, revelation and allegation stares Prince Charles in the face as he is hounded by headline-grabbing controversy started by Paul Burrell, royal butler-turned-author,'' said The Times of India.

Burrell ignored an unprecedented plea from Diana's sons, princes William and Harry, and went ahead on Monday with publication of the book.

With an initial 95,000 copies on sale in Britain and 700,000 in the United States, the book's most sensational revelation is that Diana predicted her own death in a car crash just 10 months before she died in a Paris road tunnel in 1997.

It is also packed with personal letters and details about the famous infidelities of Diana and Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, before their break-up.

"All of this is a bit of a pity really,'' India's Hindustan Times said in an editorial headlined "The butler did it.''

"The Prince of Wales' nine-day visit to India starting today seems to have taken on an unexpected colour with Princess Diana's ghost and Mr Burrell's ghouls making a noisy racket in the background.''

Charles' tour, focusing on the environment, heritage restoration, bilateral ties and helping young business people, begins in Delhi, takes in the royal desert cities of Jaipur and Jodphur and ends in the film and financial capital, Bombay.

"As a great admirer of India's rich architectural treasures, not to mention her religious and cultural traditions, I am very keen to highlight the important restoration and conservation work being carried out to protect this unique heritage,'' he said in a statement before leaving for New Delhi.

"But I am also keen to see some of the latest developments in India -- how strong links with Britain continue to grow for our mutual benefit.''

In Bombay, Prince Charles will visit the set of the film, "The Rising,'' starring Bollywood's reigning queen and former Miss World, Aishwarya Rai.

The movie, which also stars Toby Stephens, is based on an uprising in 1857 known as either the Indian Mutiny or the first war of independence. That led to Britain seizing control of most of the country from the British East India Company.

This is Prince Charles' first visit to what was once the jewel in the crown of the British Empire since 1992, when Diana was photographed alone in front of the Taj Mahal in what became a defining image of their impending split.



Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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