It was 2005 during a holiday in the Swiss Alps – days before his wedding to Camilla – that Prince Charles’ ‘general frustration’ boiled over and he made a rather awkward comment to Harry and William after not spotting a nearby microphone.
His father may be the one known for his questionable comments and near-the-knuckle observations, but Prince Charles is not above being caught sharp-tongued himself.
Prince Philip has previous chosen to say such choice ditties as “You managed not to get eaten then?” in conversation with a British trekker in Papua New Guinea in 1998 and, famously, “If you stay here much longer, youll get slitty eyes”, which he said to a British student in China in 1986.
Charles, meanwhile, was more coy when he let slip a famously rude comment – but perhaps did not expect to be caught out by the latest in sound recording tech.
It was back in 2005, at a photo session in Klosters ski resort in the Swiss Alps, when the Prince of Wales was asked about his upcoming wedding to Camilla.
The eager reporter was one Nicholas Witchell, a seasoned operator who since 1998 had been the BBC’s royal correspondent.
In 1997, Witchell had been the first reporter to announce the death of Princess Diana, Charles’ first wife.
And in 2002 his obituary of Princess Margaret – the Queen’s sister – caused some offence at the Palace for references to her lovers and “copious” consumption of whisky.
For whatever reason, on that cold day in the Swiss Alps, Charles, surrounded as he and his two sons William and Harry were by TV cameras, microphones and journalists, let slip his true feelings about the BBC man.
Witchell had asked how Charles was feeling about his upcoming nuptials – William having just answered a similar question.
Somewhat cheekily, the Prince of Wales replies: “I’m very glad you heard of it anyway,” before his face contorts into an awkward, somewhat exasperated grin.
But then, through gritted teeth, Charles mutters under his breath: “Bloody people. I can’t bear that man. He’s so awful. He really is.”
Whether or not he expected his comment to be picked up is open to debate, but there’s no doubting he could see the dozens of microphones honed on his every word.
William, to his credit, remains composed despite his dad’s muttered utterances and continues with a light-hearted response.
“As long as I don’t lose the rings. I have one responsibility and I’m bound to do something wrong,” he jokes.
William was to be a witness at the wedding the following week.
The clip recently resurfaced on Channel 5’s The Royals on Holiday programme.
Ten years on from that day, Witchell and the Prince had an uncomfortable reunion.
The royal correspondent came face-to-face with the Prince of Wales at an environmental fundraiser in Washington DC in March 2015.
It was believed to be the first time the two had met since the heir to the throne was caught muttering his cutting aside.
But the Prince seemed unrepentant when confronted by the reporter outside the event.
He gave a curt reply when Witchell asked why he “still cared so much” about environmental issues.
“Well, I’ll turn it round the other way,” responded Charles. “I think you’d be more surprised if I didn’t care about these things.
“But I think particularly in terms of what I’ve been talking about now, there’s an awful lot to worry about.”
The Prince then quickly got into his car.
Speaking in 2014 about the incident, Witchell said: “There has never been an apology, and why should there be? He was probably quite right. You know, awful man.
“You could take the view it was the best thing that happened to me, because it showed that it is our job as BBC journalists to report fairly and accurately, but not to seek approval. We’re not there to be liked.”
Reports suggested that, back in 2005, Charles had perhaps hoped the cameras would leave him and his sons alone for their week’s holiday while preparations for his wedding continued back home.
Along with the comment about Witchell, Charles was also caught muttering, “I hate doing this,” and, “Bloody people,” as he smiled wryly.
That day was also famous for an endearing interaction between Charles and his then-youthful sons.
As the reporters bustled in their media huddle, Charles asked William and Harry: “Do I put my arms around you?”
William replied: “No, don’t, but you can take the horrible glasses away.”
Charles said: “Do not be rude about my glasses, I couldn’t bear it if you were.”
A cheeky photographer then tells the Royal trio to “look like you know each other”, causing the princes to lean into their dad who puts his arms around his sons.
Charles then said to his sons: “What do we do?”
And William replied: “Keep smiling, keep smiling.”
As the clip began circulating the globe – far more of a scoop than anything the hopeful hacks could have dreamed of bagging that day in the Alps – the Palace was quick to offer explanations to mitigate the impact.
Pictures of Prince William sitting next to his then girlfriend and fellow St Andrews student Kate Middleton on a restaurant terrace the previous day had appeared in the press, and aides suggested the Prince was narked by this.
His then press secretary, Paddy Harverson, said at the time: “We recognise that we cannot stop photographers taking these pictures, but we hope every year that they will respect the privacy of the family and friends and their need to have a private holiday. There were paps taking pictures all over the place all day.”
At the time, Harry was on his way to the Sandhurst military academy while William was to graduate from university that summer.
And it was felt that the press interest in the young princes’ lives would begin to ramp up significantly, as an informal agreement to respect their privacy during their childhood – and in the light of the tragedy that befell their mother – came to an equally informal end.
It was later that Harverson admitted his former boss had some regret about saying what he did that day.
“Nicholas was in the firing line when the prince was expressing his general frustration at the paparazzi and it boiled over at the first person to ask a question,” he said.
“It wasn’t personal. He does regret saying it. He really didn’t mean to take it out on Nicholas.”
READ MORE FROM SOURCE: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/prince-charles-rude-comment-harry-21885516