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CNN AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

Royal Family in Damage Control Mode

Aired November 12, 2002 - 05:36   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: And now we're going to take you to London, where the royal family is in damage control mode. A scandal involving allegations of rape and a cover-up at the palace is getting the full tabloid treatment. And at the center of the controversy, Prince Charles and Princess Diana's former butler.
CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is joining us now with the details -- Nic, this is getting nasty.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Catherine, yes, it has been getting nasty. But where it's going now appears to be in damage limitation, as you say. Yesterday there was a meeting between the queen's private secretary and Prince Charles' private secretary. Now, although today Prince Charles' office won't say what was discussed other than it was concerning these tabloid revelations and they won't say what their options are concerning what they will do, they are saying that they are considering a number of options.

But, again, the British newspapers here leading with what they think is going to happen and that is that there will be an independent inquiry. Now that independent inquiry is expected to be headed by a senior legal figure or perhaps a senior civil servant.

Now, the inquiry will cover the issues of the allegations of a homosexual rape in Prince Charles', within Prince Charles' staff. And it will also apparently focus on the issues of the alleged sale of royal gifts by royal staff and the fact that there was no tax paid on the revenue generated from the sale of those gifts.

Now, it's also believed, and, again, this is just being reported in the British papers, that it is also believed that the queen and Prince Charles will also be questioned by that independent inquiry -- Catherine.

CALLAWAY: Nic, and this former butler of Princess Diana is not done yet, is he?

ROBERTSON: No, he's not. The way, again, that it plays out in the British tabloids here, who have been very competitive to get his story -- one of them, as we know, the "Daily Mirror," paid almost half a million dollars to get his story -- the way it's being played out here is that Paul Burrell, former butler, having sold this story in the U.K., is now in the United States selling his story there.

Now, Paul Burrell came out yesterday and said that he was really hurt by the dirt that was being dug up on him. Now he's left the U.K. But he says he will continue with what he calls telling the truth, and that's what he plans to do -- Catherine.

CALLAWAY: All right, CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson covering it for us.

Thanks, Nic.

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