LONDON (AP) — Russia has criticized Prince Charles' reported comparison of President Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler and is protesting the matter with Britain.
Charles, the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II, reportedly compared Hitler's 1939 invasion of Poland with Russia's annexation of Crimea in a private conversation during his current trip to Canada.
In Moscow, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Russia wanted an explanation from Britain about whether Charles expressed that view and whether the wider British government shares it.
"If these words indeed were said, they don't befit a future British monarch," Lukashevich told reporters Thursday.
"We consider the use of a member of the British royal family by the Western press for waging a propaganda campaign against Russia over the pressing international issue — the situation in Ukraine — as unacceptable, outrageous and base," he said.
The Russian Embassy in London in a statement said its officials were meeting British Foreign Office counterparts Thursday to seek "official clarifications" of the prince's "outrageous remarks."
The controversy comes at a time of heightened tension between Russia and the West. It started after the Daily Mail newspaper reported Wednesday that Charles had made the comments Monday during a visit to the Museum of Immigration in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The Mail said he was talking with museum volunteer Marienne Ferguson, who was a young girl when her family fled Poland before its 1939 invasion by Nazi Germany. Ferguson later confirmed the content of his comments to the BBC.
Charles' aides have declined to confirm or deny what he said, asserting that they do not comment on private conversations.
Charles' remarks did draw criticism from some British politicians, who said the royal family should avoid political statements.
However, Prime Minister David Cameron defended Charles on the grounds that everyone was entitled to an opinion. And opposition leader Ed Miliband said Charles "has got a point" in his characterization of Putin.
Charles is scheduled to join leaders of the World War II Allies, including Putin, at June 6 events in France marking the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Associated Press reporter Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.