LONDON (Reuters) - Prince Charles is not snubbing Chinese President Xi Jinping by missing a state banquet in his honor at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday as some media have suggested, according to a royal source.
Some commentators have suggested that Charles, who once described the Chinese Communist leadership as “appalling old waxworks” and is close to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, was deliberately skipping the ceremonial event.
But the source said the heir-to-the-throne, who has missed similar events for Chinese leaders in the past, would be spending more time with Xi than any other royal during his four-day visit to Britain.
Charles is due to greet Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan at a hotel in London on Tuesday morning and then travel with him to a formal welcome near Buckingham palace.
After lunch at the palace, Xi and Peng will again meet Charles and his wife Camilla at his London residence, Clarence House, and join them for a private tea.
“The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall have significant involvement in the state visit by the President of the People’s Republic of China,” a Clarence House spokesman said.
Unlike in 2008 and 2012, Charles did not meet the Dalai Lama, who has described the prince as “very close ... best of friends”, when he visited Britain last month. The BBC said this had paved the way for the prince’s private meeting with Xi.
“We are focusing on what aspects of the state visit the Prince of Wales is involved in,” the source said, adding the prince had previously raised the issue of climate change and environmental issues with former Chinese presidents.
“We don’t know exactly what the content of the conversation will be this afternoon,” the source said.
Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison