Prince Charles is demanding “North Korean-style” pre-conditions in television interviews, including advance knowledge of precise questions, the right to oversee editing and even to block a broadcast if he does not approve of the final product.
The Independent has learnt that the Prince of Wales will only speak to broadcasters on the condition they have signed a 15-page contract, demanding that Clarence House attends both the “rough cut” and “fine cut” edits of films and, if it is unhappy with the final product, can “remove the contribution in its entirety from the programme”.
The degree of censorship led to the cancellation of an interview with Prince Charles due to be conducted by Jon Snow of Channel 4 News on Sunday at the British ambassador’s residence in Paris, on the eve of the Paris climate change talks.
In pictures: Prince Charles through the years
In pictures: Prince Charles through the years
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Prince Charles is presented with a teddy bear for Prince George during a visit to the 132nd Sandringham Flower Show at Sandringham House
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Prince Charles at 5 weeks old, with his mother looking on
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Princess Elizabeth and The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh with Prince Charles after his christening at Buckingham Palace in 1948
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Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain) with her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and their baby son Prince Charles in 1949
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Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh are photographed with their two children, Charles, Prince of Wales (L) and Princess Anne (R), circa 1951
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Prince Charles, heir to the British throne riding in his pram pushed by his nanny, Mabel Anderson
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Prince Charles on his fourth birthday, leaning from a window with the Queen
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Prince Charles, aged 4, driving a toy car in the grounds of Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland
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Princess Anne laughing while she is posing with her brother Prince Charles
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Queen Elizabeth (1900 - 2002), wife of George VI, with her grandson Prince Charles and Pippin the dog
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Queen Mother Elizabeth, Prince Charles and Princess Elizabeth in the royal hall of Westminster Abbaye during Princess Elizabeth's coronation ceremony in 1953
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Prince Charles on holiday in Jamaica,1966
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Prince Charles and his mother Queen Elizabeth on the ramparts of Windsor Castle in 1961
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The Queen Mother leaves St George's Chapel, Windsor after a Garter Ceremony, accompanied by her grandson Prince Charles, 1968
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Prince Charles prepares himself a snack meal in his rooms at Trinity College in Cambridge, 1969
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Prince Charles playing the cello while he was a student at the University of Cambridge in 1969
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Prince Charles and fellow students, rehearsing for a revue at Cambridge University, in which the Prince appeared in several sketches, 1969
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Charles, Prince of Wales prepares an aircraft for take off during a flying lesson
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Prince Charles in his investiture robes at Caernarvon Castle,1969
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Charles, Prince of Wales starring in the Trinity College, Cambridge annual revue, 'Quiet Flows The Don'. He blowing bubbles during a parody of weather forecasts called 'Weather Tim Nobler', 1970
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Prince of Wales and Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones on the Estate at Balmoral Castle, Scotland during the Royal Family's annual summer holiday in September 1971
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Prince Charles in an Infantry Colonel's uniform prepares to fire a 120mm bazooka during his visit to the Montgomery Barracks at the Kladow district of West Berlin in Germany, 1972
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Prince Charles Playing Polo At Cowdray Park
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Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, dressed in traditional tweeds and sporting a smart naval beard, rides the acres of Badminton, 1976
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Prince Charles becomes Red Indian Chief Red Crow during his visit to Canada in 1977
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Prince Charles with long hair blowing in the wind at polo at Smith's Lawn in Windsor, 1978
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Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles
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Prince Charles and his fiancee Lady Diana Spencer together with their dog Harvey rest by a bench in Scotland, 1981
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Prince of Wales kisses Lady Diana on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their wedding in St Paul's Cathedral
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The Prince and Princess of Wales with their newborn son Prince William on the steps of St Mary's Hospital in London, 1982
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Prince Charles and Diana with Prince William on the day of William's christening, held in the music room of Buckingham Palace in London,1982
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Prince Charles with his baby son Prince William in the sitting room of their Kensington Palace home
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Princess Diana and Prince Charles watch an official event during their first royal Australian tour in 1983
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Princess Diana holding baby Prince Harry as she and Prince Charles leave St. Marys hospital in London, 1984
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Prince Charles and Diana at home in Kensington Palace with their sons Prince William and Prince Harry in 1986
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Prince Charles and Princess Diana look their separate ways during a memorial service on their tour of South Korea in 1992
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The Prince of Wales, wearing a kilt, chats to Chelsea Pensioners when he visits Chelsea Hospital in 1992
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Princess Diana, her sons Harry and William, and Prince Charles attend commemorations of VJ Day in London in 1995
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Prince Charles examines a plant at Yalding Organic Gardens in Kent, 1996
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Prince Charles and his two sons Harry and William wait in front of the Westminster Abbey in London after the funeral ceremony of Princess of Wales
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Prince Charles visitins the farmers market In Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, 2000
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Prince Charles visits the world-famous Eden Project - The 86 Million Tropical Rainforest in Bodelva, 2001
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Prince Charles poses with his sons Prince William and Prince Harry during the Royal Family's ski break at Klosters, Switzerland, in 2005
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New WWF President Prince Charles gives a keynote speech during an event to mark the 20th anniversary of the Global Forest & Trade Network, an initiative established by WWF to improve the responsible management of the world's forests at St James' Palace in London, 2011
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Prince of Wales and Michael Middleton are photographed before the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey
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Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall arrive at St. Georges Chapel following their civil wedding ceremony at Windsor Guildhall
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Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales as they are seen viewing horses in the parade ring from the Royal Box on the second day of Royal Ascot in London, 2013
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Prince Charles visits the Mackwoods Labookellie Tea Estate on a visit to Sri Lanka, 2013
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Prince Charles and Mark Shand (founder of the Elephant Family charity) (centre left) visit the elephant corridor at Vazhachal Forest Range near Chalakudy in Kerala on 12 November 2013
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Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall holds an 'I'm a King's Baby' bear as Prince Charles, Prince of Wales looks on during an official visit to King's College Hospital in London
Channel 4 News was not prepared to conduct the interview under the conditions demanded. But it is understood that several news broadcasters have agreed to pre-interview contracts with the Prince.
The contract stipulates that an interviewer of Prince Charles “may solely ask questions” previously approved by Clarence House. The questions are written out in full within the contract.
“In the event that the Interviewer or any personnel of [the broadcaster] asks a question which has not been pre-approved, HRH or the member of [Clarence House’s] staff present during the filming of the contribution may intervene and halt filming.” In such circumstances, the broadcaster “shall have no right to use or exploit in any form whatsoever any of the material filmed”.
It specifies that, during the editing of the filmed interview, “issues concerning matters of fairness, balance, confidentiality or security or concerns about religious, political or racial sensitivities may be raised by the representative of [Clarence House]”.
Although the contract includes Clarence House’s recognition that “full and final artistic and editorial control” should reside with the broadcaster, this is overruled by the other strict conditions.
One source said the degree of news control was reminiscent of “North Korea” and would never be accepted in respect of other senior figures being interviewed. The existence of the contract – which some journalists believe puts them at risk of being in breach of the Ofcom broadcasting code on editorial independence and transparency – will add to controversy surrounding Prince Charles’s attempts to influence national debate.
The “black spider” memos, published earlier this year, showed how Prince Charles has for decades attempted to influence public opinion by sending secret letters to government departments on pet subjects as diverse as climate change, homeopathic medicine, housing policy and hospital food.
He has previously shown a greater willingness to engage with the media than other members of the Royal Family, most notably the Queen who consistently avoids comment on controversial issues.
But the emergence of Prince Charles’s “access agreement” contract suggests that he is not prepared to debate matters on the same terms as other public figures, including politicians, who are habitually subjected to questioning on topics beyond those they agreed to discuss. Senior figures in broadcast news said that written pre-interview contracts for pieces on news programmes are highly irregular.
The contracts are drawn up on behalf of Prince Charles by his principal private secretary, Clive Alderton, while the Prince’s negotiations with the media are led by his communications secretary, Kristina Kyriacou.
Clarence House said that other members of the Royal Family used similar contracts. “The issuing of broadcast contracts is standard practice across the royal households,” said a spokesperson. “All broadcasters who enter into them are keen to ensure that they do not breach any of the relevant broadcast rules and go to great lengths to protect their independence in this regard. The contracts are put in place to ensure factual accuracy and protect the broadcaster as well as the interview subject.”
The Independent understands that contracts are customised according to the media project.
Sensitivities around television’s portrayal of the Royal Family were heightened by the “crowngate” scandal at the BBC in 2007, when footage of the Queen was misrepresented in a trailer that wrongly suggested she had stormed out of a photoshoot with the photographer Annie Leibovitz. The BBC1 controller Peter Fincham was forced to resign after claiming the Queen had left “in a huff”.
In its contract, Clarence House demands prior approval of “all trailers, press releases and other promotional material” associated with an interview and to be given advance notice of the “identity of any interviewees or contributors” who feature in any programme.
Channel 4 is not a subscriber to the royal rota media arrangements operated by Buckingham Palace. Sky News carried an extensive “exclusive” interview with Prince Charles on 23 November before the Paris talks, where he is a keynote speaker. In the 26-minute package, interviewer Rhiannon Mills, Sky News’s royal correspondent, said of Prince Charles: “In his own way, the Prince of Wales has become a climate change celebrity, able to get people talking and attracting star support for campaigns including his push to protect the rainforests.”
The Independent understands that Sky News and other news broadcasters have signed pre-broadcast contracts with Clarence House. Sky News declined to comment.
Prince Charles has also given interviews this year to CNN, whose royal correspondent Max Foster spent time with the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall before their tour of America. CNN said: “CNN had full editorial and creative control over the interview with HRH the Prince of Wales, and no questions were set out in advance.”
The Prince has spoken several times this year to BBC Radio, including an interview with Radio 2’s The Sunday Hour in February, in which he said the radicalisation of young people was “alarming”. He also spoke out in support of small farmers on Radio 4’s On Your Farm. The BBC said: “As a matter of principle we always retain editorial control of the programmes we broadcast.”
The contract: Charles’s broadcast riders
* The Interviewer may solely ask a set of questions mutually agreed between Clarence House and [the news organisation].
* A representative of Clarence House shall be permitted to view the Programme prior to broadcast at the final “rough cut” stage
* Any issues concerning matters of fairness, balance, confidentiality or security or concerns about religious, political or racial sensitivities may be raised by the representative of Clarence House
* A representative of Clarence House shall also be permitted to view the Programme at the “fine cut” stage prior to the first transmission of the Programme (and in good time should any changes be required)
* [The news organisation] shall provide a copy of the final transmission version of the Programme to the staff at Clarence House, prior to… broadcast and Clarence House shall be entitled to require [the news organisation] to remove [Prince Charles’s] Contribution in its entirety from the Programme
* [Prior approval is required for] all trailers, press releases and other promotional material in relation to the Programme
* [Prior approval is required for] the identity of any interviewees or contributors to the Programme other than HRH
* [The news organisation] will stop filming immediately if reasonably requested to do so at any time by Clarence House
* [The news organisation] shall have no right to use or exploit in any form whatsoever any of the material recorded immediately around the interruption in filming
* [The news organisation] shall share with Clarence House its proposed marketing, press and publicity
* [The news organisation shall] keep in strictest confidence and not at any time disclose publish or reveal at any time hereafter, either personally or by means of press or publicity or advertising agencies, or by means of any social networking sites, chat rooms or otherwise by supplying information to any website, without Clarence House’s prior written approval, the footage recorded… or details of or material relating to any incident, conversation or information concerning HRH, the Royal Family or Clarence House or any other confidential information.
The colonel’: Prince’s fiercely loyal PR officer
Kristina Kyriacou was appointed communications secretary at Clarence House earlier this year, reportedly on the insistence of Prince Charles.
She has worked for the Prince for more than three years and is credited with arranging for him to guest-edit an anniversary episode of the BBC’s Countryfile show, as well as an edition of the magazine Country Life.
Charming and steely, she previously worked in entertainment public relations where she represented stars including Simon Cowell, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and Gary Barlow, who referred to her as “the Colonel”.
Channel 4 News has an awkward relationship with Ms Kyriacou after she ripped the cover off reporter Michael Crick’s microphone in London as he tried to ask the Prince of Wales questions about the “black spider” memos in May.