Ten years ago, a Guardian journalist used the UK's new Freedom of Information Act to request correspondence between Charles Windsor, self-styled Prince of Wales, and government Ministers. The government refused. The Guardian appealed, won a ruling for release from the Information Tribunal, and managed to overturn a government veto in the Supreme Court. But they won, and today, Chalres" now-infamous "black spider memos" have finally been made public. The government had tried to veto them to protect Windsor's "political neutrality", out of fears that seeing how he really behaved might lead the public to believe he was not, in fact, neutral. And you can see why: because his secret lobbying was highly political:
From Blair, Charles demanded everything from urgent action to improve equipment for troops fighting in Iraq to the availability of alternative herbal medicines in the UK, a pet cause of the prince. [and we should note, a lucrative source of revenue - I/S]
In a single letter in February 2005, he urged a badger cull to prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis – damning its opponents as “intellectually dishonest”; lobbied for his preferred person to be appointed to crack down on the mistreatment of farmers by supermarkets; proposed his own aide to brief Downing Street on the design of new hospitals; and urged Blair to tackle a European Union directive limiting the use of herbal alternative medicines use in the UK.
And Ministers, like crawling sycophants, obeyed. So despite Westminster's central bargain of the monarch staying out of politics, the monarchy are exercising secret influence at the highest level of government. And if this is a taste of what he plans to do as monarch, then the UK should respond in kind and end it for good.
You can read the full memos here.