Prince Charles publicly embarrassed Her Majesty and was branded a petulant and selfish prince after snubbing a state dinner in an unprecedented act of rebellion.
The heir to the throne didn’t attend the state dinner organised by the Chinese president in 1999.
He didn’t do so, despite the event being deemed of extreme importance by both the Government and the Crown.
Charles, who is a famous supporter of Tibet’s claim of independence from China, snubbed the invitation extended to the royal family on October 20, 1999 by the then president of China, Jiang Zemin.
This snub was deemed deliberate by Charles’ former aide, Mark Bolland and caught everyone by surprise.
According to some reports, the monarchy was expected to put on a show. The UK was trying to foster good trading relations with a country like China. And in order to do that, all parts of the state system has to work smoothly.
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And the Royal Family, as ever, had a big part to play. They were really rolling out the red carpet. There absolutely was an expectation that Charles would be there.
Queen Elizabeth was the last to arrive, so Prince Charles would have been sort of the second last to get out. And when the car came and it was the Queen getting out, then obviously people realised there was a big story, because the Charles wasn’t there.
There was no explanation for it. The palace didn’t brief on it. I think they were caught unawares.
Charles’ behaviour was immediately perceived as a boycotting act. But as royals are forbidden from meddling with politics, his action was described as “damaging in the extreme” and even a plain offence to the Crown.
A royal expert, Mr Kay said:-
“By not attending on this occasion, he didn’t not only let down the monarchy, he embarrassed his mother. Those who work for him didn’t have an explanation beyond that he had an unbreakable social arrangement elsewhere”.
The event that could not be missed by him later turned out to be a small dinner party he hosted with Camilla.
The pair had made their relationship official only months before, and Camilla didn’t yet hold any royal title. Prince Charles’ defection to his duty sparked fury both in the royal palaces and Downing Street.
Mr Kay continued: “Buckingham Palace’s response was one of anger, so angry in fact that some of their senior officials briefed journalists about what they described as a petulant and selfish prince”.