How Charles buries himself in the country

Richard Kay

Last updated at 00:00 01 December 2003

FRIS of Prince Charles have long since grown accustomed to the eccentricities of the heir to the throne, but even they have become mystified by his latest soul-searching habit.

The Prince has taken to spending an increasing amount of time in his hideaway at Highgrove, the Sanctuary - the folly he built to mark the Millennium.

So often is he to be found in the energy-efficient, eco-friendly building that the Prince's friends have suggested - among themselves - that he should have a telephone extension put in.

That, however, is an idea Charles would not welcome. He uses the place to recharge his emotional and spiritual batteries. Sometimes Camilla Parker Bowles joins him in the plain and spartan surroundings but usually he is alone.

'Whenever we phone these days the butler says

he is in the Sanctuary and asks us to call back,' says one friend.

'It has happened so often others have noted it, too.' For Charles, of course, it has been a troubling few weeks with claims about his private life rampaging around the internet and the selfinflicted harm of the Palace's damagelimitation exercise which backfired badly.

At the moment, he and Camilla are at Sandringham for his annual winter shooting party.

There is no Sanctuary at Sandringham, however, and the Prince will doubtless wish to hurry back to Highgrove at the earliest opportunity.

'The Sanctuary is a very holy place to Charles, quite the most important retreat,' says a close friend.

'It's also where he wants to be buried, side by side with Camilla.'

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