Olympics: Prince Charles will not attend games, Tibet rights group says
( AFP ) - Prince Charles will not be attending the opening ceremony of this year's Olympic Games in Beijing, he told a group that campaigns against human rights abuses in Tibet in a letter disclosed Monday.
A spokeswoman for the prince at Clarence House declined to comment, saying only: "We would not be able discuss any private correspondence."
According to the Free Tibet campaign group, it wrote to Charles, the heir to the throne, calling on him not to attend this summer's games in the Chinese capital.
In response, the prince's deputy private secretary Clive Alderton wrote: "As you know, His Royal Highness has long taken a close interest in Tibet and indeed has been pleased to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama on several occasions."
"You asked if the Prince of Wales would be attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008. His Royal Highness will not be attending the ceremony."
In a diary entry made public in 2006, Charles wrote on the occasion of Hong Kong's handover to China in 1997 that China's leaders resembled a "group of appalling old waxworks" and also lamented the "awful Soviet-style display" of Chinese troops "goose-stepping" at the event.
A Free Tibet spokesman said: "We welcome the fact that the Prince of Wales will not be endorsing China's ongoing human rights' abuses in Tibet by attending the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games and we are calling on other high-profile public figures and politicians to follow suit.
"Human rights abuses in Tibet have worsened since China was awarded the games in 2001. These games will come to be known as the Games of Shame."
The news will dent British government hopes to strengthen relations with China -- Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited Beijing and Shanghai on a diplomatic visit earlier this month.