Prince courts political controversy

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The Independent Online
The Prince of Wales was criticised by Conservative MPs last night as plans emerged for a series of meetings between himself and ministers this week.

The Prince, who is constitutionally forbidden from entering the party political arena, will appear today with Donald Dewar, the Secretary of State for Scotland, at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. Mr Dewar will urge Scottish employers to back the Prince's Trust and the Prince will present awards connected with the organisation.

Tomorrow he will meet the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, at an event in London where he will promote the Business in the Community charity.

On Wednesday, the Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett will be at a reception for primary school teachers at Prince Charles's home, Highgrove House in Gloucestershire.

Teresa Gorman, Tory MP for Billericay, said the Prince was "wrong and silly". And she added: "If you start getting into political things you are courting trouble because one side or the other won't like you for it."

However Lord St John of Fawsley, a constitutional expert, said it was acceptable for the Prince to get involved in public issues, provided he did not stray into the realm of party politics.

"The monarchy is perfectly entitled to get involved in political and social issues, but what they must not do is involve themselves in party politics as such," he said.

Fran Abrams