Stop trying to pull a fast one, Dominic. We all know you're trying to protect Prince Charles from himself

Our future King should not be able to intervene politically without public oversight. Allowing him to do so is a decision of galling subservience, never mind dishonesty

Share

Prince Charles is presumably punching the air with relief. I say presumably: we’ll never know for sure, not even if he describes the moment to a minister in a postscript to one of the letters in which he also expresses a strong view on a piece of public policy. Anyway, if he is doing so, he has Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, to thank for it.

In vetoing a court ruling that correspondence from Charles to seven government departments should be published, Mr Grieve laid out an argument for the protection of the royal secrecy that doesn’t stand up to even the most cursory scrutiny. It is, plainly, a self-serving and disingenuous ruling. I hope the Attorney General, who has apparently enjoyed the respect of the legal community, is thoroughly embarrassed.

The gist of the matter is this. The Prince is notorious for his view that his strong feelings on a number of subjects entitle him to express those opinions to the relevant authorities, presumably by dint of his birth, since he has no other relevant qualifications.

In itself, this is galling. But what Mr Grieve said yesterday made it even worse: the Prince is not only entitled to express those views with a vigour and expectation of influence that no private citizen could ever hope to match. He is also entitled to do so in absolute secrecy, without any public oversight of his actions or redress if he goes too far.

The real reasons for this decision are, it seems safe to say, a lot to do with the embarrassment that would ensue if we were able to see exactly how politicians respond to the future monarch’s bidding when he is being, as Grieve put it, ‘particularly frank’. There may be a bit of kneejerk deference thrown in.

Officially, though, it’s because such correspondence forms an important part of Charles’ “preparation for kingship”. Publication of the letters, Grieve said, “would potentially have undermined his position of political neutrality” – and his neutrality is a “matter of the highest importance”.

Surely we can all see the fast one the Attorney General is pulling here?

Even if we disregard the absurdity of the idea that this 63-year-old man is receiving an education in the ways of monarchy by bothering busy people with important jobs to do, we can surely all see see the fast one Grieve’s pulling here, right? He’s saying that not publishing the letters will help to maintain the prince’s political neutrality.

But it’s perfectly obvious to anyone who speaks English that his move will do nothing of the kind: instead, it will help Charles maintain the illusion of political neutrality while exercising his influence as much as he likes. Grieve is right that his neutrality is important, but there’s only one course of action here that might encourage him towards it: the expectation that he be held accountable for his interventions.

There’s no chance of that now: Grieve wouldn’t even need to intervene these days, as the rules have been changed to exclude the Prince from the kind of transparency laws that should have put these letters in the public domain. Guess who apparently lobbied behind the scenes for that one? It was Charles, apparently. But once again, we’ll never know for sure.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Glazier

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist historic buildi...

Recruitment Genius: Office and Customer Services Manager

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small but very busy (and f...

Recruitment Genius: Portfolio Administrator

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has become known a...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical and Electrical Engineer - Midlands

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrig...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The right election result could mean a change to our drug laws

Nigel Morris
Builders have been taking on apprentices and even turning to sources such as army veterans for workers  

The march of the apprentices

Chris Blackhurst
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot