Princely opinions: Charles has his say about the running of Britain

 
The heir to the throne has sought the ear of parliament before.

Note: This article is from the Guardian.


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Princely opinions: Charles has his say about the running of Britain” was written by Rob Evans and Robert Booth, for The Guardian on Wednesday 17th October 2012 18.56 UTC

Dominic Grieve, the attorney general, has blocked the publication of a raft of correspondence between Prince Charles and ministers in seven government departments.

It means that at the moment, we do not know what the prince wrote to the ministers about in those letters which span September 2004 and April 2005.

Here is what he has had to say about those departments in the past:

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The heir to the throne has a lot of form in venting his views about the environment. They have embraced the plight of rural farmers, GM foods, hunting, and foot and mouth. He reportedly wrote to Tony Blair, then the prime minister, criticising the government for “destroying the countryside” and failing to tackle rural poverty and housing. He was reported to have relayed a comment from one farmer, who said: “If we, as a group, were black or gay, we would not be victimised or picked on.” He is also alleged to have remarked that if hunting was banned, he might as well leave the country and spend the rest of his life skiing. During the 2001 foot and mouth crisis, Prince Charles is believed to have attempted to prevent the cull of cattle and led the push for vaccination. He has been a vehement supporter of organic food and opponent of GM food.

Department of Health

The prince is well-known for backing alternative medicine, making his views known as far back as the early 1980s and he set up a charity to promote it. Paul Richards, a former Labour special adviser between 2005 and 2009, has said that behind the scenes lobbying of health ministers by the prince had helped to secure a £1m grant to his charity. He added that the charity, the Foundation for Integrated Health, had organised a reception at Clarence House hosted by Charles and attended by at least one health minister and Tony Blair’s health adviser.

Department for Children, Schools and Families

Another apparent bugbear of the prince. As far back as 1991, he complained about the way English was being used by people: ” Our language has become so impoverished, so sloppy and so limited… we have arrived at a wasteland of banality, cliché and casual obscenity.” In 2004, it emerged that he had criticised the modern education system, saying: “What is wrong with everyone nowadays? … Why do they all seem to think they are all qualified to do things …? … This is all to do with the learning culture in schools that … is the result of social utopianism which believes that humanity can begin to genetically re-engineer … to contradict the lessons of history and the realities of nature.” The then education minister Charles Clarke was upset, saying that the prince was very old-fashioned.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Prince Charles is fascinated by Britain’s links to its built heritage and in 2004 is known to have written to the then chairman of English Heritage, Sir Neil Cossons, to declare himself “confused and bewildered” by a developer’s plan to demolish derelict market buildings at Smithfield in London and build offices and shops. EH is a quango funded by the DCMS.

“If, as you say (and we all agree!), they make ‘a significant contribution to the character and appearance of the Smithfield conservation area and possess great townscape value’ then why on earth can they not be listed now?” Prince Charles wrote on Highgrove House headed letter paper. To ram home his point he underlined “now”.

The DCMS also oversee the listing system which protects historic buildings, a close interest of the prince’s. Other matters understood to have attracted his attention in the DCMS portfolio are his concern about the demise in rural skills such as stonemasonary and hedge-laying and the way in which he could help the culture secretary, Tessa Jowell, in her role as minister responsible for the bereaved from terrorist attacks including the 9/11 attacks on New York, the 7/7 bombings in London and the Bali bombings.

• This article was amended on 18 October 2012, because the original incorrectly referred to “the chairman of English Heritage, the late Sir Neil Cossons”. Cossons is no longer chairman of English Heritage, but is very much alive.

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