i Editor's Letter: Why monarchists should worry about Charles letters


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Republicans will be disappointed – no explosive exchange reveals a man unfit to be king. Indeed, many people will find something they agree with in Prince Charles’s letters. Some of his warnings are prescient, and public reaction will not be a problem, since he already has the reputation of an opinionated, harmless meddler.

This snapshot reveals his systematic lobbying of government ministers, though. It is not a question of whether or not the Prince has sound opinions, but whether, by entering the fray, he compromises the Crown. The monarchy prospers under the Queen because she has provided a continuity that transcends politics; her monarchy is a unifying force.

Clarence House says the Prince is only raising the concerns of the thousands of people he meets, and that he does not expect his letters to go to the top of the pile. But he knows how ministers will respond, and he lobbies them because these are his opinions; he’s no impartial conduit. The Prince has sought to change the course of events, using his position as heir to pressure ministers to shape government policy. He warns one Secretary of State: “Chickens will come home to roost in your department…”

There’s a difference between public speeches and secret advocacy,

where one tries to change public policy affecting us without scrutiny; between gentle private correspondence – where one might have a reasonable expectation of privacy – and full-throated lobbying.

Significantly, the Prince does not obsess about protecting the political neutrality of the monarch. After 50 years he is bored to tears with the ceremony. He is thoughtful, intelligent and feels a duty to act: he finds that righteous political urge impossible to repress, and aides suggest he plans to make “heartfelt interventions” in national life. His friend Jonathan Dimbleby remarks that “a quiet constitutional revolution is afoot”. That should concern monarchists, above all.