1936: 'Something should be done,' said King Edward VIII, great uncle of the Prince of Wales, when he witnessed unemployment on a visit to south Wales. His words, raising fears that the monarchy was involving itself in politics, went down badly at Westminster. The King himself did not wait to see anything done. A month later he had abdicated.

1999: 'Are we going to allow the industrialisation of Life itself ... and embarking on an Orwellian future?' Just as the Government was making ground on GM food, the Prince of Wales published his doubts in the Daily Mail. No 10 said it was good to have him in the debate. Behind the scenes, ministers were spitting tacks.