Prince Charles lobbied Alex Salmond over a stately home and his Highlands food brand

Former First Minister once described himself as Charles's 'obedient servant'

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Indy Politics

Prince Charles privately lobbied Alex Salmond as Scotland’s First Minister to seek money or political backing for causes including a stately home and his Highlands food brand, according to newly-released correspondence.

Extracts from seven letters disclosed by the Scottish government under freedom of information laws show that the heir to the throne, who has been criticised for his lobbying of ministers in Westminster, was also seeking to influence spending decisions in Edinburgh.

Details obtained by the Sunday Herald newspaper show that the prince wrote to Mr Salmond between July 2007 and July 2010 on subjects including making the case for additional funding for the Soil Association in Scotland and the preservation of historic buildings.

In his reply to the request in 2009 for help for a Soil Association initiative promoting healthy food, the former SNP leader asked his officials to investigate and signed off: “I have the honour to be, Sir, Your Royal Highness’s most humble and obedient servant.”

Mr Salmond said that this was the last time he used such formal language after judging it to be “inappropriate to a democratic age”.

The prince wrote in July 2007 to express his “heartfelt thanks” for the decision by the Scottish government to donate £5m towards the purchase of Dumfries House, a stately home in East Ayrshire.

He also sought the appointment of experts to help his food brand, Mey Selections, develop low carbon systems and unsuccessfully lobbied in 2008 for £2m towards renovating a derelict castle on the Isle of Rum.

Although all communications between members of  the Royal Family and ministers are now exempt from disclosure under Westminster legislation after the disclosure of 44 letters earlier this year, Scottish law continues to allow their publication when it is judged to be in the public interest.

Clarence House opposed the release of the letters, whose contents were nonetheless not revealed in full. An unknown number of other letters to the Scottish government remain secret.

Mr Salmond, who denied Labour accusations that the correspondence showed he was “sook” or sycophantic towards the prince (known as the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland), had backed the release.

He told the Sunday Herald: “I am proud of supporting these projects just as Scotland should be proud of the public spirited work of the Duke of Rothesay.”

A spokeswoman for prince said: “These letters… show the Duke of Rothesay expressing concern about issues that he has raised in public.”