A mass-circulation British newspaper said Monday that Prince Charles wants to renounce his right to the throne and let his son William become the direct heir to Queen Elizabeth.
The tabloid Sun said the prince had told the queen he would step aside because of the crisis in his 11-year marriage to Princess Diana and damaging allegations that he has been closely involved for a long time with a married woman."Charles: Give my crown to Wills" declared the Sun in a banner headline over a report, citing as its source an unidentified friend of the prince.
The story said Charles' offer could cause the biggest royal upset since the 1936 abdication crisis.
The monarchy was rocked to its foundations when Edward VIII gave up his crown to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. His shy brother George VI, whose daughter is Queen Elizabeth II, ascended unexpectedly to the throne.
The Sun story is the latest in a barrage of dramatic "revelations" about the royal family and the prince's relationship with an old flame, Camilla Parker-Bowles, that have made some royalists mutter about a possible plot to bring down the monarchy.
After the Daily Mirror ran details last week of an alleged "love tape" of Prince Charles and Parker-Bowles swapping affections on the telephone, other tabloids vied to get eye-catching headlines of their own about the royal love tangle.
Other newspapers Monday continued to explore the Camilla connection, with Today saying the 45-year-old mother of two had vowed to stay away from the prince to save her brigadier husband from any more pain or embarrassment.
Andrew Parker-Bowles has called the rumours of a liaison between his wife and the prince "rubbish."
Monday's Daily Mirror said British intelligence had kept a secret file on the prince's relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles that recorded their meetings at various addresses.