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WikiLeaks give rare glimpses of how royals are viewed

By Andrew Carey, CNN
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Royal gaffes exposed
  • Commonwealth officer says prince doesn't "command the same respect" as the queen
  • Syrian perceptions called into question by minister
  • Miliband reminds minister that Sarah Ferguson is no longer a royal

London, England (CNN) -- The diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks throw up revealing details about how the world looks at Britain's royal family, as well as highlighting the occasional episode when erstwhile-royal behavior forces its way on to the agenda of international meetings.

There is a frank assessment of Prince Charles by the political director of the Commonwealth group of countries. Amitav Banerji tells an officer at the U.S. Embassy in London that the prince does not "command the same respect" among Commonwealth members as does Queen Elizabeth, according to a cable sent on June 11, 2009.

Banerji says Commonwealth officials were trying to get the prince "more involved" in the organization, according to the cable. It goes on to report Banerji saying the issue of whether Prince Charles would succeed his mother as head of the Commonwealth would be dealt with after the queen passes. There is no rule stipulating the British monarch must head the organization, the cable notes; nor is there any procedure for selecting a new head.

Approached by CNN for a response, a spokesman for the Commonwealth said it did not comment on privileged communication.

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Governments react to leaked cables
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Prince Charles also crops up in a cable sent from Amman, Jordan, on February 19, 2004. This time the assessment is less frank and rather more bizarre.

The cable details a briefing to the U.S. ambassador by the then-Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher, who is describing what the cable calls the "stark ignorance" shown by Syria towards the rest of the world.

By way of an example, he cites comments by Syria's Foreign Minister Farouq Sharaa, to Jordanian officials, that Prince Charles was on the point of being implicated in a Scottish judicial investigation into Princess Diana's death; as a result, said the Syrian minister, the prince was about to embark on a trip to Iraq and Iran "to seek the support of the Muslim world."

"They just don't get it," Muasher told the U.S. ambassador, referring to the Syrians.

And Prince Charles' one-time sister-in-law, Sarah Ferguson, landed Britain's former Foreign Minister David Miliband, in hot water, according to a cable described in the Guardian newspaper but not yet published by WikiLeaks.

The newspaper, which has had sight of the cables in advance of their publication, reports that a documentary made by the former Duchess of York about the treatment of disabled children in Turkish care centers "topped the agenda" at talks between Miliband and his Turkish counterpart, Ali Babacan, in November 2008.

Turkey said the documentary, which saw Sarah Ferguson disguise her identity to gain access to the centers, was aimed at compromising its efforts to join the EU, the paper says. Miliband is reported to have reminded Babacan that as Ferguson was no longer a member of the royal family, "her activities could no longer be controlled."

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