Prince's visit triggers protest

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The Independent Online
HUNDREDS OF Argentine demonstrators chanted slogans against the Prince of Wales and burnt Union flags as he made a speech calling for the Falkland Islanders to be left to live in peace.

Police in riot gear fired tear gas and called in water cannon when protesters threw a petrol bomb at a road block near the Alvear Palace Hotel in Buenos Aires, where the Prince was delivering his address to an audience that included the country's President, Carlos Menem. Two police officers were injured and 27 people were arrested.

Prince Charles told his audience that while the British royal family enjoyed the limited constitutional right to warn, encourage and be consulted, they did have the right to express their hopes for the future. "My hope is that the people of modern, democratic Argentina ... will in the future be able to live amicably alongside the people of another modern, if rather smaller, democracy lying a few hundred miles off your coast," he said.

The speech was as close as Prince Charles could go without becoming directly embroiled in the struggle over sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, which Argentina invaded in 1982. Although his message went down well with the hotel audience, the Prince's presence has infuriated hardline nationalists, who accuse President Menem of conceding too much to Britain over the islands. Mr Menem upholds Argentina's claim to the islands but has shunted the issue to the bottom of his agenda.

Earlier, in a gesture calculated to soothe national pride over the 1982 war with Britain, the Prince laid a wreath at a memorial to the 750 Argentine soldiers killed in the conflict. The tribute echoed President Menem's gesture in London four months ago, when he paid homage to Britain's 272 war dead. Prince Charles' gesture upset some Falkland islanders, whom he is due to meet after visiting Uruguay today.