The heir to the throne will be absent Tuesday night when Britain's government and the royal family host an official banquet in honor of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Britain's Prince Charles is expected to skip the white-tie event at Buckingham Palace, reported the New York Times.
Prince Charles was scheduled to meet with Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan on behalf of Queen Elizabeth Tuesday morning and meet again later in the afternoon, the Times reported. Xi has embarked on a planned four-day trip throughout Britain. Charles has not commented on his choice to skip the official banquet, but his icy relationship with China has been well-documented.
Most notably, Charles is known to be close with the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of the disputed area of Tibet. Chinese leaders have long considered the region to be a part of China, while many Tibetans have petitioned for a separate state. Charles' planned absence at the Buckingham Palace dinner is not his first snubbing of Chinese events.
He skipped a 1999 banquet held at the Chinese Embassy in London in honor of the Queen, was absent from a 2005 banquet during the last official visit from a Chinese leader and boycotted the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, according to the Telegraph. A former private secretary described the 1999 incident as a deliberate move.
"He did not approve of the Chinese regime and is a great supporter of the Dalai Lama, whom he views as being oppressed by the Chinese," Mark Bolland said, according to Sky News Australia.
It also surfaced that Charles wrote Chinese leaders were "appalling old waxworks" in journal entries about the 1997 transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong from Britain to China. In addition, he wrote that one ceremony was an "awful, Soviet-style" performance.
Charles' official residence, Clarence House, emphasized that the heir to Britain's throne would be attending numerous events with the Chinese delegation. "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 spokeswoman said, according to Sky News Australia.
But Charles' snubbing stands in sharp contrast with the stances of Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, who have embraced trade with China despite numerous concerns over issues like human rights and cybersecurity.
Xi and his wife will stay at Buckingham Palace during their visit. And while Charles will skip the official banquet, his son, Prince William, and his daughter-in-law Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, are expected to attend the event. William made a well-regarded official visit to China earlier this year.