April 09, 2005

Prince Charles shakes hands with thug dictator Mugabe

Prince Charles has caused a bit of an uproar by shaking hands with thuggish Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe yesterday at Pope John Paul II's funeral.

Prince Charles was sitting one space away from Mugabe, and was caught unawares during the portion of the mass when the members of the congregation "exchange the peace," a time of mutual reconciliation and greeting.

A Clarence House spokesman said the prince "finds the current Zimbabwean regime abhorrent" and "was not in a position to avoid shaking Mr Mugabe's hand".

The spokesman added: "He has supported the Zimbabwe Defence and Aid Fund which works with those being oppressed by the regime.

"The prince also recently met Pius Ncube, the Archbishop of Bulawayo, an outspoken critic of the government."

A Foreign Office spokesman said seating arrangements at the funeral were made by the Vatican.

But Labour MEP Glenys Kinnock, who has called for the EU to get tougher with the Mugabe regime, said shaking his hand was not "sensible".

She added: "I am sure that by now Prince Charles regrets shaking Mugabe's hand.

"However, this is yet another failure of the establishment, of people with power and responsibility in the international community, to be sensitive enough about how to respond to this man."

MEP Richard Corbett said Prince Charles should have refused to shake Mr Mugabe's hand.

He said: "This was a golden opportunity to deliberately and very visibly refuse to shake hands with this man.

"To fail to do so was, frankly, stupid."

Mugabe sidestepped an EU ban on travel in order to attend the Vatican funeral service. Mugabe was able to travel because the Vatican is a soverign state, separate from the European Union.

Posted by mhking at April 9, 2005 12:58 PM

The Vatican is a landlocked country with no airport. How did he get there from Zimbabwe if not through a third country?

It's typical of these sophisticated EU/UN types. There good at making rules, not too good at enforcing them.

Posted by: Mike at April 9, 2005 09:24 PM

Because visitors to the Vatican are protected by diplomatic privilege from the airport to St Pete's. That's the only reason why Mugabe went; I mean he's called the local Cardinal a loonie for calling for Mugabe to be defeated in the recent 'fair' election so he is not the Catholic Church's best friend. The whole point is he craves the attention and that is why he went.

I'd be interested to know if Grace Mugabe managed to sneak into the shops and spend the entire defence budget on clothes as she does each year....

Posted by: dave t at April 10, 2005 07:39 AM

If I were Camilla, I wouldn't let the hand that touched Mugabe touch me.

Posted by: BobG at April 10, 2005 04:58 PM

Hie' I don't see why there is such a big fuss about President Mugabe shaking hands with Prince Charles. The Prince is true gentleman and he did the right thing, this was a funeral where everyone should share the same goal, which was to mourn the Pope and not to try and express your political views. Many rivals shook hands so why criticize Charles for been a true diplomat for shaking hands with President Mugabe. Tony Blair and the rest of his delegation should be ashamed off themselves for fleeing from Mugabe. President of Israel shook hands with the leader of Iran, showing real diplomacy. It’s a shame that Britain still have people who think primitively like Glenys Kinnock.

Posted by: Chats at April 12, 2005 01:03 PM
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