Charles Involved in Mystery Scandal?

updated 11/07/2003 at 12:00 AM EST

originally published 11/07/2003 3:06PM

Curiouser and curiouser as was said in "Alice in Wonderland," but that's nothing compared to another strange chapter in the soap opera that is the royal family.

This time, Prince Charles has strongly denied allegations that have yet to be made public because of legal limitations on the press in England. But somewhere, somehow, there appears to be a scandal involved. Only what?

British papers have been packed with stories of a supposed royal scandal, without revealing its nature, reports Reuters. Several tabloids are going so far as to claim that if they ever get permission to print what they know, the scandal could bring down the royal family.

Here's what is known: In a legal victory Thursday, the Guardian newspaper said it won the right to name Michael Fawcett, once the closest servant of Prince Charles, as having sued to stop the Mail on Sunday from printing what it said was a sensational 3,000-word story this week.

The Mail announced that it had obtained a scoop from a royal servant that was "of the utmost importance and concerns matters of the deepest public interest" -- only this was stopped dead in its tracks, apparently, by Fawcett's suit.

And though the Guardian was happy to reveal Fawcett's name, "This newspaper is not publishing the actual allegations," it says on its Web site, adding it has "no reason to believe the allegations are true."

"The saga shows, however, the extraordinary lengths to which both sides are going in the current bitter battle between scandal-hungry tabloids and an increasingly-bruised royal family," it said.

Prince Charles is reportedly out of England and in Amman in the Gulf, on royal business, with this current situation being handled by Sir Michael Peat, his personal private secretary.

Clarence House (which is Charles's palace) issued a full statement, denying the allegations, saying, among other things, "speculation needs to be brought to an end ... the allegation was that the Prince of Wales was involved in the incident ... this allegation is untrue."

Whatever it might be.

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