Angry Charles hits back at his critics

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Indy Politics

The Prince of Wales last night launched a robust defence of his "old-fashioned" views in a dramatic escalation of his row with Labour cabinet ministers. The Prince sought to explain a private memorandum in which he appeared to decry individuals' unrealistic ambitions.

The Prince of Wales last night launched a robust defence of his "old-fashioned" views in a dramatic escalation of his row with Labour cabinet ministers. The Prince sought to explain a private memorandum in which he appeared to decry individuals' unrealistic ambitions.

Clarence House last night released the text of a speech which he will give tomorrow in an attempt to calm the media storm engulfing him. He will say: "The idea that I think that 'people should not try to rise above their station' is a travesty of the truth."

However, the Prince appeared to defend his criticism of "child-centred" education when he stressed that "success can come in many forms ... People must be encouraged to fulfil their aspirations in ways that recognise their different abilities and talents."

His remarks are a direct rejoinder to Charles Clarke, the Secretary of State for Education, who has called the Prince "old-fashioned" and "patronising". Mr Clarke went on the offensive after a memo, written in May 2003, came to light in the course of an industrial tribunal bought by former royal aide Elaine Day.

The memo said: "What is wrong with everyone nowadays? Why do they all seem to think that they are qualified to do things far beyond their capabilities? People think they can all be pop stars, High Court judges, brilliant TV personalities ..."

Mr Clarke's withering response that "we can't all be born to be king" sparked an extraordinary spat between senior ministers and Prince Charles. The row showed little sign of abating last night as both royal aides and Labour MPs continued to argue, despite an appeal from Prince William for people to give more credit to his father for his charity work.

In an interview released today, Prince William's respect for his father is expressed with candour. "He's a great person to base all judgments and attitudes towards doing public duties, as is my grandmother.

"He's had a difficult time and, you know, it's just sad. I wish more of his charitable work was concentrated on. I really hold him in great admiration." Prince William also said that he wanted to take time to consider his own future. Although he would like to go to Sandhurst, no final decision has been made.

Prince Charles himself will throw fuel on the fire tomorrow when he pointedly defends his controversial outlook against his critics.

"I know that my ideas are sometimes portrayed as old-fashioned. Well, they may be. But what I am concerned about are the things that are timeless regardless of the age that we live in. I have been around long enough to see what were at the time thought of as old-fashioned ideas now come into vogue."

Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West, urged the Prince to "bandage his mouth". He said: "The only real requirement for a head of state is to keep out of contentious areas."

Tomorrow's speech, on the subject of his charitable work, will be made to Anglican bishops at Lambeth Palace.

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