March 7, 2009
Posted: 12:03 PM ET
LONDON, England (CNN) - Prince Charles has sent a condolence message to the family of a wealthy British couple who ended their lives together at a euthanasia clinic in Switzerland, according to media reports.
Peter and Penelope Duff from Bath, England, died in Zurich on February 27, according to a statement released Thursday by their family. Both had terminal cancer.
Prince Charles sent the message to the couple's son-in-law, Simon Conibear, who works as a development manager at his "model village" in Poundbury, Dorset, the British Press Association reported.
Conibear and the Prince had met on a number of occasions, PA reported.
The family said earlier this week that Penelope, 70, had fought GIST (gastrointestinal stromal tumor), a rare type of cancer found in the digestive system, since 1992.
Meanwhile Peter's, 80, colon cancer had spread to his liver.
Dignity in Dying, a British charity that advocates the choice of assisted death for terminally ill patients, said it was "extremely sad" that the Duffs had to travel abroad to die.
"Had they had the option of an assisted death in this country they may still be alive, as their physical ability to travel would not have been a factor," said Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying.
Wootton called on Parliament to modernize laws on suicide to allow for assisted dying.
Phyllis Bowman, executive director of Right to Life, which opposes euthanasia, also said the Duffs' case was sad.
"I think it's very sad, particularly as they could have gone together into a hospice. A hospice with cancer - there is not uncontrollable pain," Bowman told CNN. "I think that with the euthanasia lobby, they feed on despair and they encourage despair rather than hope."
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