Prince Charles' comments in Canada have drawn Russian scrutiny. Photo: AP
London: A senior Russian ambassador is to meet an official from the British Foreign Office after the Prince of Wales caused a diplomatic row by comparing Russian President Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler.
The Prince made his remark, in which he likened Russia's annexation of Crimea to the actions of Nazi Germany, during a visit to a museum of immigration in Halifax, Canada. He told a woman whose relations were murdered in the Holocaust: "And now Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler."
Russian diplomats contacted the Foreign Office seeking an urgent meeting on Thursday to clarify whether Prince Charles's provocative remarks amounted to an "official position".
Members of Russian President Vladimir Putin's family died during World War II, an event that claimed 20 million Russian lives. Photo: Reuters
As a result, Russia's deputy ambassador will meet a senior official today, London's Telegraph reported.
The comments are regarded as particularly offensive by Moscow as 20 million Russians were killed during the war, including members of Mr Putin's family.
A senior Russian diplomatic source said: "We are seeking clarification [from the Foreign Office] at a working level. It's not clear if it is an official position. The response from Clarence House is it was a private talk. We hope there is nothing behind it. But it is unclear to us: what does it mean? He is the future king, after all."
The source said: "It is very serious. Every family in our country lost someone in that war."
After years of thaw, including the awarding of medals to the British veterans of the World War II Arctic Convoys, British and Russian relations were put into "deep freeze" after the Russian occupation of Crimea.
The European Union and US responded with sanctions on Russian MPs and the suspension of defence deals.
Mr Putin has sought to revive the memory of the "Great Patriotic War" in order to bolster his reputation as the leader of a resurgent Russia. Prince Charles and Mr Putin are due to appear together at the anniversary of the D-Day landings in France next month.
British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg defended the Prince over his comparison, saying that the heir to the throne is "entitled to his views".
Not every MP was as sympathetic. Mike Gapes, the Labour MP and member of the Commons foreign affairs committee, said: "In a constitutional monarchy, policy and diplomacy should be conducted by Parliament and government. Monarchy should be seen and not heard."
The Russian media took a stronger stance, warning that the Prince's comment could "trigger an international scandal".
The Moskovskij Komsomolets, a popular Russian daily, said the Prince had risked complicating already "not unclouded" British-Russian relations.
Mr Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declined to comment on the issue.
A spokesman for Clarence House said: "We do not comment on private conversations. But we would like to stress that the Prince of Wales would not seek to make a public political statement during a private conversation."