He might be the great, great grandson of Britain’s King George V, and currently 44th in line to the British throne. But for the moment, Rowan Nash Lascelles, 28, says he is “stuck” in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak backpacker area.
Facing a $250,000 lawsuit for throwing a Russian man’s laptop computer in the lake from which Boeng Kak takes its name, Lascelles has had his passport confiscated by police and is now facing a court hearing.
The apparent minor British royal, who has earned the nickname “Mr Lop Lop”—which roughly translates as “Mr Silly”—from staff at the Number 10 Guesthouse, is unrepentant about his brush with the law and said this week that the Russian had it coming. “I did chuck his laptop into the water because he’s nuts…. I got fed up with his lies,” he said in an interview Tuesday.
Petr Tikhonov, 38, doesn’t agree with Lascelles’ account of what happened at the lake. And he says that Lascelles should pay him a king’s ransom for destroying his computer hardware.
Tikhonov said he filed a complaint with police in late September and is seeking $250,000 in damages for his laptop, the intellectual property contained on the hard drive and for injuries sustained to his lung from a public flogging he claims that Lascelles delivered with a pool cue.
“I want police to protect me,” said Tikhonov, who describes himself as a famous Russian trumpet player.
The case between the self-proclaimed heir to Britain’s throne—albeit at a long distance—and the Russian has baffled police, who even tried a diplomatic solution and called in the British Embassy. If Lascelles claims are true, and they could not be independently verified, then his grandfather is a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II.
Asked whether he was the same Rowan Lascelles who is 44th in line to the throne, Lascelles replied “yes.”
He also said his father wants him to take care of himself in life, but in his current circumstances added: “Maybe I could call on the Royal Cabinet.”
Municipal Foreigner’s Police Bureau Chief Mom Sitha said that the case had been sent to court because police could not negotiate a compromise between Lascelles and Tikhonov.
The acrimony between the two men had gotten so heated that British Embassy officials were called in to help negotiate a way out of the impasse, the police official said.
“They are both mischievous,” Mom Sitha said. “The Russian is difficult and the English is also difficult,” he said.
He also added that Tikhonov was being unreasonable about the amount of money he wanted from Lascelles, and that while he may have thrown a computer in the lake there is no proof that Lascelles beat Tikhonov.
“The Soviet asked for $1 million, it is too much,” Mom Sitha said. “It is difficult to talk to the Soviet,” he added.
Lascelles said he knows his passport is now with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, but isn’t sure what to do about it.
“The [British] Embassy told me to try and get the passport back from the police,” he said, adding that he was planning to visit other parts of Southeast Asia. “But I got stuck here.”
Deputy Prosecutor Ngeth Sarath said Wednesday that the Municipal Court has Lascelles passport, but could not confirm when the case will be brought to trial.
The British Embassy said they were aware of the case, but cannot interfere, as it is a private dispute.
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