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Ed Miliband: Prince Charles has a point comparing Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler

By David Mercer

The Prince of Wales "has got a point" when he draws comparisons between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Adolf Hitler, Labour leader Ed Miliband has said.

Mr Miliband said many Britons shared the Prince's concerns about Mr Putin's actions in Ukraine, which were reportedly voiced in a private conversation with a member of the public during his tour of Canada.

Jewish museum volunteer Marienne Ferguson (78) told Prince Charles how she and her family fled the Nazis during the Second World War, and said that he responded: "Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler."

His comment prompted one senior Labour MP to suggest he "should abdicate" if he wanted to speak out on political affairs.

But Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg backed his right to express his opinions and said that there was no requirement for the royals to adopt a "Trappist" vow of silence.

Prime Minister David Cameron declined to comment on the Prince's reported remark, but said: "Of course, everyone is entitled to their private opinions."

Asked three times on BBC Radio 4's World at One what he thought of the comments, Mr Cameron said only: "I'm not going to comment on the private conversations of anyone, least of all Prince Charles."

Charles's remark came during a tour of the Museum of Immigration in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where the Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall paid tribute to Second World War veterans and their families.

After meeting Charles, Mrs Ferguson told the Daily Mail that she told the Prince how she fled to Canada shortly before the Nazis annexed the free city of Danzig – now Gdansk in Poland.

"The Prince said: 'And now Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler'," said Mrs Ferguson.

"I must say that I agree with him and am sure a lot of people do. But I was very surprised that he made the comment as I know they (members of the royal family) aren't meant to say these things.

"I told the Prince that while my family and I were lucky to get a permit to travel, many of my relatives had permits but were unable to get out before the war broke out on September 1. They were sent to the concentration camps and died."

The comments came just over a fortnight before Charles is due to meet Mr Putin at the commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy on June 6. He and the Duchess are currently on a four-day tour of Canada.

Mr Miliband told Sky News: "I think lots of people across the country will share Prince Charles's concern about President Putin and his actions in the Ukraine.

"I think it's also the case that Prince Charles should be entitled to have private conversations with an individual and those are private conversations. I'm not going to comment on the detail of those conversations."

Mr Miliband added: "I think he has got a point about President Putin's actions and I think he is absolutely entitled to say that there are real concerns about that."

Mr Clegg said Charles was "free to express himself".

The Deputy PM told BBC1's Breakfast: "I think he is entitled to his views. But I don't know whether those were his views because I just don't think providing a running commentary on what were private conversations is useful to anybody."

BACKGROUND

Prince Charles is renowned for being outspoken on certain issues such as GM crops and architecture. His most famous quote came in 1984 when he referred to a proposed extension to the National Gallery in London as a "monstrous carbuncle". Earlier this year Charles spoke out about the flooding on the Somerset Levels, calling it a "tragedy" that "nothing happened for so long".

But he has not always wanted his views to be made public. Letters he wrote to a number of Government departments between 2004 and 2005 are the subject of a legal battle over whether their contents should be disclosed.

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