Mad dogs and an Englishman: heat is no joke for Charles

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The Independent Online

The allegations may be there for the entire world to read on the internet, but for the Prince of Wales yesterday it was business as usual: keeping the locals entertained in a far-flung part of the globe.

Surrounded by the royal rat pack in Oman where, conveniently, he is on a two-day visit after spending nine days in India, the Prince of Wales showed only the merest flicker of reaction to the furore back home.

"There's a lot of reflected heat around here," he commented while peering through an arrow slit in the battlements of an Arabian fort. Of course, he may just have been referring to the baking sun, but in the current climate such nods, winks and hints are all part of the mystery.

And clearly, behind the determined effort of his aides to maintain that "the show must go on", the royal telephone line between Oman and Sir Michael Peat, the Prince's private secretary in London, must have been as hot as, well, the Arabian desert.

At Muscat's British School, where he gave a short speech to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its royal charter, the Prince was still making jokes about the heat.

"There's an old saying that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun. It seems to me we have managed to prove that national characteristic in a remarkable way today." Quite.

Just in case he needed some defence against the reptiles eagerly following in his footsteps, the Prince was presented with a weapon when he visited a Sadaf gift and coffee shop.

He was given a sharp curved dagger known as a khanjar, made of engraved silver with a sandalwood handle.

The ornate piece of weaponry is worn on a leather belt decorated in silver known as a hizam. Locals said the dagger was ceremonial, but used to be an important tool for people travelling away from home.

"It's very sharp," said Faisal al-Mantheri. "It's all about tribal revenge and retaliation."

"I'm very touched," the Prince said, possibly wondering whether to try out a little tribal retaliation on certain former royal servants.

Princes Charles's visit to Oman seems to confirm a habit, denied by the palace, of trips out of the country at convenient junctures.

At the precise moment of the publication of the Peat report into the Burrell trial and the allegations over royal gifts involving his aide Michael Fawcett, the Prince found it necessary to have breakfast with the King of Bulgaria.

Back in Oman the Prince continued to joke about the weather while visiting small businesses set up by Omani development agencies.

"I'm getting used to it," he said, referring to the heat.

Unfortunately for the Prince, it might still become a little hotter ...