May 21, 2014 11:03 AM EDT

A royal spokesperson refused Wednesday to confirm or deny reports that Prince Charles likened Russian President Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler during a private reception this week with World War II veterans in Canada.

The Guardian reports that Prince Charles reportedly made the comparison in the course of a private conversation with Marienne Ferguson, a Jewish museum volunteer who related the story of her family’s escape from Nazi persecution.

“And now Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler,” Prince Charles responded, according to the Daily Mail.

A royal spokesperson refused to confirm or deny the report, arguing that private conversations, even among royal family members, are still private. “We would not comment on private conversations,” he said.

Incendiary as the historical comparison may be, Ferguson told the Daily Mail she agrees with the comment and appreciated the Prince’s unguarded sincerity. “I was very surprised that he made the comment as I know they [members of the royal family] aren’t meant to say these things but it was very heartfelt and honest.”

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