Prince wanted referendum on breaching of moat

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The Independent Online
THE QUEEN may have shown no sign of regret at the opening ceremony, but the heir to the throne had strong reservations about the opening of the Channel tunnel, writes Colin Brown.

The Prince of Wales wanted to call for a referendum on the tunnel when the idea was first raised by Baroness Thatcher while she was Prime Minister. At a private luncheon, he tested political opinion on calling for such a referendum. He was warned that to demand one on a multi-million- pound project that had Margaret Thatcher's backing would bring the Crown into direct conflict with the Government.

The Prince was concerned about potential loss of jobs on cross-Channel ferries and associated services. But his main concern was based on his historical viewpoint. He expressed regret that a tunnel would mean Britain would no longer be an island.

He had in mind Shakespeare's lines from Richard II: 'This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle . . . This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it . . . as a moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of less happier lands, This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.'

But, heeding the warning, he shelved the referendum idea, and yesterday this 'scepter'd isle' officially became attached to Europe.