By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday, May 22, 2014
Prince Charles likens Vladimir Putin to Hitler, woman says
The royal visit to Canada has made headlines in Britain’s Daily Mail and other British media for what has been reported as a remark in which Prince Charles likened Russian President Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler when talking to a woman who lost relatives in the Holocaust.
The Daily Mail says Charles made the comment during a visit Monday to the Canadian Museum of Immigration in Halifax.
The newspaper reports museum volunteer Marienne Ferguson as saying her Jewish family fled to Canada from Poland when she was young, but that other relatives failed to flee before the German army arrived in Gdansk in 1939.
It quotes Ferguson as saying she told Charles about her family background and how she came to Canada, and that Charles then said to her: “‘And now Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler,'” referring to the annexation of Crimea in Ukraine.
The BBC reached Ferguson in Halifax. She told the British media outlet that it was “just a little remark. I didn’t think it was going to make such a big uproar.”
Headlines in the United Kingdom have accused the unelected heir to the throne of inappropriately wading in to international politics.
Speaking to the BBC, Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg defended the prince over his comments, saying it was “clearly a private conversation.”
A spokesperson from Clarence House, the press office for the Royal Family, told CBC News it does not comment on private conversations.
“But we would like to stress that The Prince of Wales would not seek to make a public political statement during a private conversation,” read a statement from Clarence House.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the Prime Minister’s Office won’t comment on remarks made during a private conversation.
“That said, we have been clear that the Putin regime’s illegal occupation of Ukraine and its persistent military aggression are a return to Soviet-style tactics and cannot be tolerated,” spokesman Jason MacDonald said in an email.
“We will continue to work with our allies to apply pressure on Russia until they de-escalate.”
Tensions have grown between Putin and the West since Russia’s annexation of Crimea earlier this year.
Prince Charles is due to meet the Russian president for D-Day anniversary commemorations next month.
Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall leave Canada from 17 Wing Canadian Forces Base in Winnipeg on Wednesday night. (Source: CBC News)