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Wills enjoys the limelight as Diana inquest casts shadow over royals

HAIR slicked back by sea spray and flanked by Royal Marines, Prince William sped across the waters of the River Clyde yesterday as he took part in military manoeuvres, then settled comfortably into his public role by opening a social club.

In the past few days, Prince William, whose public appearances have in the past been rare, has been a blur of activity, displaying his football skills in Newcastle on Thursday at a sports development centre then going on to Glasgow to tour the world's most advanced warship.

Yesterday he continued his Royal duties by visiting the Royal Marine Commandos at Faslane nuclear submarine base, where he participated in their early morning exercises.



The suggestion that the spate of publicity opportunities for the heir to the throne was to divert attention from the Diana inquiry was denied last night. A Clarence House spokesman said: "These visits have been planned months in advance. He is the commodore-in-chief Scotland and Submarines, a title given to him by the Queen last year, and that is behind the specific reason for the visit."

The Queen last year gave a number of members of the royal family responsibilities for specific areas. Prince Harry is commodore-in-chief small ships and diving.

However Brian Hoey, a biographer of Prince William, said: "The inquest has been planned for months. They know this will divert attention and I think it's far too coincidental."

Robert Lacey, author of Majesty, a biography of the Queen, argued that the palace drew a line under Diana in the summer with the concert and memorial service and has no reason to compete for headlines. "There are a lot of spin-doctors and the Ministry of Defence may wish to enjoy some good news for a change and his visit would have been popular."

The future king, a cornet in the Blues and Royals, will one day be head of the armed forces. He is to go on secondment with the Navy and RAF next year.

During yesterday's visit, William took part as armed Royal Marine Commandos boarded a target vessel simultaneously from a boat and helicopter in a meticulously timed exercise. The Prince was on board a rigid inflatable boat which sped up behind the target vessel on the Gare Loch.

Later the prince went on to meet naval families, local community groups and youth groups when he opened a refurbished room at the Drumfork Club in Helensburgh, a social club for naval families.


MOHAMMED al-Fayed's lawyers yesterday forced Channel 4 to release potentially crucial new evidence to the Diana inquest.

It features previously unseen filmed interviews with paparazzi who chased her on the night she died and is expected to cast new light on whether they caused the crash.

The interviews were part of the research into the documentary Diana: Witnesses in the Tunnel.

Channel 4 was criticised at yesterday's High Court hearing in London for blocking attempts to get hold of the evidence.

Jonathan Hough, for the coroner, said Mr Fayed's solicitors had asked the coroner to demand unbroadcast footage on 18 June this year, 12 days after it was broadcast.

Mr Justice Eady ordered Channel 4 to hand over unbroadcast interviews from the documentary.

Heather Rogers, for Channel 4, said an urgent review of the evidence would go ahead and any relevant material disclosed as soon as it was found.


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