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Another round in Prince Charles' matrimonial sweepstakes

LONDON -- Buckingham Palace has stoutly denied Prince Charles used the royal train for a secret love rendezvous with Lady Diana Spencer, but the denial acted to only further fuel speculation among Britishers that the teenage aristocrat will become the next queen of England.

The tabloid Sunday Mirror last week claimed 19-year-old Lady Diana, believed by the British press to become the wife of the heir to the throne, was twice ushered on board the train while it stood in a remote country siding.

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The Sunday Mirror said she was 'ushered through a police road block to the waiting train' and spent a number of hours with Prince Charles 'in the carriage normally used by the Duke of Edinburgh.'

The Guardian newspaper said today it understood Queen Elizabeth herself insisted the Sunday Mirror should be told to deny or substantiate the report and added that the denial only further fueld speculation that the teenage aristocrat would wed Prince Charles.

'This is a forceful demand,' the Guardian quoted Michael Shea, the Queen's press secretary, as saying. 'To suggest that the prince of Wales used the royal train for the sort of thing that is the clear innuendo in the paper caused offense -- and rightly so -- and is completely untrue.'

Robert Edwards, editor of the Sunday Mirror, said the story came from an 'impeccable source' while an unnamed senior executive on the paper retorted that the palace critically questioned a story predicting the marriage of Princess Anne and Capt. Mark Phillips only days before their engagament was announced.

'The strength of the denial adds to the belief that Lady Diana is the future princess of Wales and queen,' the Guardian said.

'There have been many newspaper reports about the love life of Prince Charles but this strong attempt to protect the reputation of the younger daughter of Earl Spencer would certainly indicate she is held in high regard.'

Prince Charles upset the predictions of many British newspapers who felt confident he would use the occasion of his 32nd birthday last week to announce his engagement to Lady Diana, a distant relative of the late Sir Winston Churchill. The day came and went without a word from the palace.

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