Queen invites barracks row sheikh

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The Independent Online

The Middle East ruler who was lobbied by the Prince of Wales to change development plans for the Chelsea barracks site has been invited by the Queen to make a state visit to Britain.

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, will be the monarch's guest at Windsor Castle for three days in October with one of his three wives, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missned.

The prince's intervention was highlighted by a High Court judge who said his actions were "unexpected and unwelcome".

Charles wrote to Qatari Diar, the property investment company of the Qatari royal family, asking it to change the designs created by modernist architect Lord Rogers for the Chelsea site.

In his letter, penned last year to the organisation's chairman and Emir's cousin, Sheikh Hamid bin Jasim, he said his "heart sank" when he saw the design.

Charles also met the Emir, who was invited by the prince to a meeting in London where the foreign royal was said to have been "surprised" by the plans and said he would have them changed.

The 12.8-acre Chelsea Barracks site is in one of London's most expensive residential areas and was sold by the Ministry of Defence for £959 million to Qatari Diar and its then partners in the scheme, the CPC group.

The planning application was for 638 homes, a luxury 108-bedroom hotel, restaurant, community hall, sports centre, shops and park with a cafe.

The prince's strong opinions led to Qatari Diar withdrawing its planning application and the CPC group later launched a High Court action to get an early payment of £68.5 million following the scheme's collapse, but the legal bid failed.

High Court judge Mr Justice Vos, who heard the case last month, described Charles' intervention as "unexpected and unwelcome".