Probably coincidentally, former special advisor to Hazel Blears, Paul Richards, and founding editor of the Independent, Andreas Whittam Smith, are today worrying about the constitutional implications of self-styled royal dissident Prince Charles continuing to lobby government.
The flaw in Whittam Smith’s argument is that Britain’s constitution — being unwritten — is remarkably nebulous. Constitutional experts like to bang on about precedents and Whittam Smith quotes letters from Asquith that say ‘this is how it’s been for 70 years’ and so on, but in truth the monarchy is more than happy to make things up as it goes along when it suits. A prime example of this being the title of the Charles’ wife. She’s not the Princess of Wales not because of anything the constitution might say, but because it might upset Diana fans.
Charles has been allowed to speak out while Prince of Wales and popped up in Copenhagen. He may have said something sensible on that occasion — I wasn’t listening — but he does have a track record for talking nonsense. His defence of alternative medicine makes him a quack who shouldn’t be taken seriously in any arena where science is key.
In the past the environment, along with architecture and some other stuff, wasn’t seen as that important by elected governments so they tolerated Price Charles speaking out from time to time. It gave him something to do. But now he won’t get back in his box.
With the environment the defining issue of our times, the next monarch finds himself centre stage and loving it. Paul Richards reports that he has views on almost everything and expects ministers to listen to his every thought.
As king Charles is unlikely to shut up and will make a mockery of British democracy.