Prince Charles will meet with the Dalai Lama in May.

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The 59-year-old prince – who is a staunch supporter of Tibet’s campaign for independence from Chinese rule – will risk causing diplomatic tensions with China when he greets the Tibetan spiritual leader during his impending visit to Britain.

Paddy Harverson, the communications director at Charles’ London residence Clarence House said: “For many years the prince has been concerned about the situation of the people in Tibet. He has met the Dalai Lama on several occasions and has been greatly impressed by his spiritual leadership.”

The Chinese government have declared themselves “seriously concerned” over yesterday’s (19.03.08) announcement that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown plans to meet the Dalai Lama during his visit, and Charles’ plans are likely to meet with similar opposition.

Charles’ support for the Tibet – which has been under Chinese rule since 1951 – are thought to be the reason he decided against attending this summer’s Beijing Olympics.

In May 2005, the prince hosted a reception at St. James’ Palace for the Dalai Lama, who Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang recently described as “a political refugee engaged in activities of splitting China under the camouflage of religion”.

The situation in Tibet has been particularly fragile in recent weeks, with China facing growing international condemnation over its violent suppression of demonstrations.

The exact dates of the Dalai Lama’s visit are not yet known, but he is due to be in London on May 22 for an event at the Royal Albert Hall.