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Prince Charles in Coronation Street drama

The Prince of Wales
The Prince of Wales will be the first member of the royal family to appear in a soap  

LONDON, England -- Prince Charles has traded the gilded halls of Buckingham Palace for the working-class world of Britain's Coronation Street by making a guest appearance on the beloved television show.

The heir to the throne made a special cameo appearance on the 40th anniversary episode of Coronation Street in a brief, pre-recorded segment on Friday.

A photograph of Charles also appeared in the show in a newspaper story that covered his visit.

In the episode, Charles visited the programme's fictitious district in the city of Manchester and met with Councillor Audrey Roberts, played by actress Sue Nicholls. Charles, dressed in a dark suit, appeared only briefly and didn't speak.

As many as 20 million British viewers were expected to tune in to Friday's special, which was broadcast live.

Coronation Street, which weaves gritty plotlines about barmaids, taxi drivers and others in a world far from Prince Charles' blue-blood life, has become a national institution since it was first broadcast on December 9, 1960.

Earlier on Friday the Prince met its creator, Tony Warren, and visited the programme's set in Manchester. He also unveiled a plaque to mark the soap's anniversary.

Coronation Street has made its stars household names in Britain and beyond with its portrayal of domestic ups and downs in a fictitious district of the city of Manchester. Some say its pub -- The Rover's Return -- is the country's most famous.

Twenty-five countries -- from Bulgaria to Nigeria, Estonia to Thailand -- lap up Coronation Street's tales of infidelity, teenage pregnancy, and violence.

Liz Dawn, who plays Vera Duckworth, one of the soap's best-loved characters, received a bunch of flowers from Prince Charles for her 60th birthday, a message from the Pope and a card from Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"I love it so much I don't know what I'd do if I left Corrie," Dawn said. "I mean many a time I have wanted to leave but I couldn't cope."

Charles went one better than his mother Queen Elizabeth who was the first royal to walk down the cobble streets in 1983 when she opened a new "Corrie" set.

Prince Edward settles case

Meanwhile, Prince Edward, youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II, has settled out of court in a dispute over the cost of work on his country house.

The London-based company C.J. Sims went into receivership after problems with a number of projects, including renovation work on Bagshot Park, the Surrey mansion Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, shares with his wife, the former Sophie Rhys-Jones.

Press Association, the British news agency reported in February that Edward had been presented "out of the blue" with a bill for about 30 percent above the agreed 1.8 million ($2.6 million) cost of the renovation work.

The dispute had been "agreed amicably without the need for litigation," said receiver Keith Goodman on Friday.

The amount of the settlement was not revealed.

Edward paid the 1.8 million during the summer of 1999 but asked for justification from the builders concerning a claim for extras. Subsequently, the final demand increased to 2.9 million ($ 4.1 million). Adjudication was sought before the settlement.

Edward and Sophie moved into Bagshot Park after their June 1999 wedding.



RELATED STORIES:
Soaps find new home online
July 20, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Coronation Street Web site
British monarchy site

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