The annual Royal Film Performance has been cancelled for the first time in more than 60 years.

This year's event was to be a screening of Sarah Gavron's Brick Lane in November, due to be attended by Prince Charles.

Officials said the decision was a diary clash with an overseas trip for the royals.

'We regret that the planned date of the Royal Performance (Oct 29) no longer works in the Royal diary,' chief executive Peter Hore of event organisers the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund (CTBF), told 'Certainly we plan the Royal Film Performance as usual in 2008.'

Inevitably there are suspicions that the film itself had been deemed too controversial. Brick Lane, adapted from Monica Ali's 2003 bestseller, is about a young Bangladeshi woman who moves to London's East End for an arranged marriage.

It was attacked by local community groups when the novel was released and filming was disrupted by protesters.

Indeed, a Clarence House spokesman told that the event wasn't exactly cancelled since it has never been 100% confirmed this year. 'The CTBF puts forward a number of films for us to consider and we were still considering those, including Brick Lane. It's about matching film and date, and in this case the scheduling was too difficult. We had also looked at doing the Philip Pullman film (The Golden Compass) but that schedule didn't work either.'

The spokesman did say that Brick Lane could have posed a problem had the gala gone ahead. 'We were aware of the controversy behind the film, and generally Royal Film Performance films aren't controversial, but there are a lot of factors that have to be considered and in this case it was more of a scheduling conflict.'

The UK premiere has now been added to the forthcoming London Film Festival. The film will screen as a Film On The Square screening the night of Oct 26.

Gavron said: 'I am delighted that the film will be in the London Film Festival. It is a film made and set in London, that embraces everything London is today - there isn't a more appropriate place for it to premiere.'
Alison Owen's Ruby Films produced, with backing from Film4 and the UK Film Council. The Works International is handling sales. After an unofficial premiere in Telluride, the film had its official world premiere in Toronto and has also played San Sebastian. It will also screen in Dinard.