London, Jan.28 : Prince Charles has announced that he will not attend the Olympic Games in Beijing this summer.
The Prince made his decision known to campaigners for a free Tibet, who had been calling on him to show solidarity with those who believe the Games risk obscuring China's human rights record.
"As you know, His Royal Highness has long taken a close interest in Tibet and indeed has been pleased to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama on several occasions," a letter, written to the Free Tibet Campaign by Clive Alderton, the Prince's deputy private secretary, said.
"You asked if the Prince of Wales would be attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008. His Royal Highness will not be attending the ceremony," The Telegraph quoted Alderton , as saying further.
Separately, the Prince's staff have made clear he will not be attending the Games at any stage during the summer.
"We welcome Prince Charles's decision to stay away from the Games, and call on other public figures and politicians to follow suit," said Matt Whitticase, a Free Tibet Campaign spokesman.
The Prince of Wales has long had a frosty relationship with the Chinese, culminating in the leak of diaries written at the time of the Hong Kong handover in 1997 in which he referred to senior officials participating as "appalling old waxworks".
He is an admirer of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetans' spiritual leader who has been in exile since an uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.
His reputation as China's leading critic in the British Establishment was what encouraged Fu Ying, the country's most senior woman diplomat, to single him out for attention when she took up her appointment as ambassador to Britain last year.
This led to a special "Chinese day" last autumn, when he toured Chinatown, had lunch with visiting Chinese businessmen and women, and attended an awards ceremony in the evening with Madam Fu.
Royal sources suggested that the decision not to go to the Games did not mean that the Prince had lost interest in China. His charities are already involved in collaboration with China on urban regeneration projects, which will continue.