What right has Prince Charles to write dozens of letters to ministers? Who does he think he is, bothering and badgering these hard-working folk in the squeezed upper strata of the body politic? Hasn't he got enough to do, laying hedges and counting his Duchy of Cornwall revenues while waiting for some uniformed helpmeet to lather his toothbrush for him?
Variations on these questions have been much aired in the past two days as it became clear that not only does Charles put pen to Basildon Bond rather more than the rest of us, but that the targets for his correspondence are government ministers. And, furthermore – for this is the cause of the fuss – the contents of these letters are not to be made public. And so, assorted trainee democrats have demanded to know, what exactly has Charles been up to?
The fear, presumably, is that Charles, with his wide portfolio of interests and enthusiasms ranging from recondite architecture and multiculturalism to field sports and Duchy Original oatmeal biscuits, has been assiduously lobbying for one or more of his current fads. An item in the newspapers catches his eye, a factotum is summoned, the fountain pen uncapped, filled with green ink, and before you know it, some hapless minister is reading Charles's observations as they meander across the page. Valuable ministerial time – which could be devoted to effing and blinding at policemen – then has to be spent on composing an emollient reply.
So, to return to our opening question: who does he think he is? Well, like many multi-issue obsessives with an odd home life, arcane dress sense, strange hobbies, and too much time on his hands, he thinks he is, or will be, the rightful king of England. He has been encouraged in this by many people in this country who bow, scrape, address him as "Sir", and believe in a Royal Family. The solution is simple. Stop treating him – and all his family – like royalty. Treat him instead like the farmer, jam bottler, biscuit maker, and builder of spooky village developments in Dorset that he is. Do that, and his pestering letters to ministers can join those sent by the rest of us, and be consigned, unread, to the wastepaper basket.