Charles and Diana rubbished by SB
By: Robert Priddy
Ever since I first joined the Sai Organisation in 1983, there have been flurries of rumours that Prince Charles had visited Sai Baba in secret during one of his several visits to India. One story told how Prince Charles was greeted during his wedding to Diana by a Sai devotee with the words Sai Ram which so the story goes was acknowledged by HRH as he walked down the aisle! This is the kind of rot that Sai devotees love to spread, there is almost no end to the absurd claims and stories. The UK newspaper Daily Express published an unconfirmed report in 1990 that a representative of Prince Charles had written to Sai Baba requesting that the Prince could visit Sai Baba, and that this request had been turned down by a letter from the ashram authorities.
Therefore I decided to ask V.K. Narasimhan whether Prince Charles had ever written to, or visited, Sai Baba. He immediately and definitively told me that this had certainly never occurred. However, some years later around 1996, he told me that a letter had been received by SB from Prince Charles, which SB had shown to him and asked him to answer. He was not allowed to tell the exact contents of that letter. He wrote to Prince Charles and reminded him of his own journalistic meeting with him in India when the Prince was but a teenager. He had later received a friendly but also somewhat formal reply, as far as I recall the details.
Of course, it is well known (and much publicised by the Sai movement!) that Keith Crichlow, the man who designed the Hospital in Puttaparthi (partly on the lines of Buckingham Palace), was a close associate of Prince Charles, who was later made head of the Prince of Wales Institute of Architecture in the UK.
In 1992 at Kodaikanal, SB gave a selected gang of foreign devotees the apparent great privilege of attending his evening talks with students at his residence there. VKN was also present and spoke his piece, as did a number of others. (These talks and occasional singing etc. were recorded and issued on 6 cassettes, which proved to contain nothing new or of any significance). However, not included in the recordings was a report from a prominent SB devotee he was asked to give by SB about how Prince Charles, recently having visited Bangalore, had said that he wanted to have Swamis darshan. The Prince had been about to give an address when he heard that this gentleman was a close follower of SB. He had allegedly taken this man aside and questioned him for about half-an-hour about SB. The Prince was said to have stated that he would visit Sai Baba if it were not for the UK Government, which was concerned about the security arrangements. This seems like a very weak reason from the UK government, for here was Prince Charles, staying at a Bangalore hotel and moving about in South India without security problems. However, that was what the select band of Western devotees, which included the US devotees Robert and Rita Bruce (who were then sharing accommodation in Kodai with Dr. J. Hislop) and other persons I knew, were allowed to hear.
Subsequently, in 1996, Robert Bruce told me that he had been present at an interview with SB where someone had asked SB about Charles and Diana and the possibility they might visit. SB had replied "They are a disgrace to their country!" These were the verbatim words Robert Bruce reported to me! One may speculate as to why SB thought this perhaps because of the leaked phone calls between Prince Charles and Lady Parker-Bowles. This could not be applied to Diana, however, so perhaps it was just the fact of their divorce. SB is known to be generally very much against divorce, though he has sanctioned some divorces (eg. Diane Baskins).
On this background, it is interesting that Fergie, the Duchess of York, visited SB at his ashram (in February of either 1995 or 1996) and was directly granted two interviews by SB (being a more important person for SB than ordinary devotees?).
In rubbishing Prince Charles and Princess Diana before a group of Westerners, could SB have simply been jealous of their fame, or piqued because they had not rushed to his lotus feet? I hardly need point out that Princess Diana was doubtless more admired and loved and by far more people, than SB has ever been able to demonstrate in his own case! He boasts about his having n million devotees, and 3 million at his 70th birthday (which is patently absurd to those who can count heads properly and estimate a maximum of 300,000), but she actually had hundreds of millions of admirers, and for obvious good reasons.