The meddling prince: Charles' secret letters published

We didn’t think the power had gone to his head but now we can’t be so sure – Prince Charles’ private letters to Labour ministers have been published following a long court battle.

Sent over 10 years ago, the letters are far-ranging and in one letter, the Prince of Wales wrote to the prime minister asking for more resources for the armed forces.

Other letters (27 altogether) released by The Guardian talk of the dominance of supermarkets, badger culling and the herbal medicine sector and were written between September 2004 and April 2005, reports the BBC.

He really is an older man!

According to The Guardian, the publication of letters Prince Charles sent to government ministers is a triumph for the Freedom of Information Act – the public have a right to know how those in authority are governing them.

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This important release of letters shows us how the heir to the throne has been seeking to influence government policies – but are we really shocked?

Another letter from September 2004 details how concerned the prince was about the Army Air Corps’ ability to deploy equipment and was “frustrated by the poor performance of the existing Lynx aircraft in high temperatures”.

“I fear that this is just one more example of where our Armed Forces are being asked to do an extremely challenging job (particularly in Iraq) without the necessary resources,” he wrote. Tony Blair responded and said they were already aware.

Earlier the next year, in February 2005, Prince Charles wrote another letter to Mr Blair and argue that supermarkets and retailers were the “single biggest issue affecting British farmers and the food chain”.

It seems like any respond Mr Blair had was merely a courtesy – you couldn’t ignore a Prince’s letters, surely?

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BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt says that royal officials say Charles has done nothing inappropriate and at no stage did he talk about party political matters.

It looks like his critics will accuse him of meddling and those who adore him will insist he cares about the issues he raises and is using his power only for good.

But Graham Smith, chief executive of anti-monarchy campaign group Republic, said the prince “does meddle”.

He said the government had wanted the letters kept secret “so that we can carry on pretending he [the prince] is impartial”.

“In fact they [members of the royal family] are busy trying to influence politicians… and that is not acceptable in a democratic society”.

 

So what do you think? Is Prince Charles just a cranky old man with a bee in his bonnet or do his letters make sense? Is he just exercising his right to have a say or is this an attempt to put his nose where it doesn’t belong?