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UK Confidential Monday, 1 January, 2001, 00:49 GMT
'Low-key' order to Prince Charles
House of Lords
The young prince was keen to be involved
One of the most interesting aspects of the documents released under the 30-Year-Rule is what it tells the public about the Royal Family. 1970 was no different.

In 1970, the year after his investitute, the Prince of Wales took his seat in the House of Lords.

And from the outset he appeared to want to play an active part in the proceedings.

But documents released by the Public Records Office under the 30-year rule show he was advised simply to listen in the early stages.

The 22-year-old prince had an interest not only in the Lords, but also in salmon conservation, according to the records.

The day after he took his seat in February 1970, Charles' equerry David Checketts wrote to Lord Shackleton, the leader of the House of Lords: "It remains to be seen whether the prince intends to play an active part in the proceedings of the house but I have a very strong feeling he does."

Prince Charles
Charles was told to be non-controversial
The prince's private secretary Michael Halls wrote to Prime Minister Harold Wilson on 20 February.

He said: "Michael Adeane (private secretary to the Queen) told me that Cobbold (the lord chamberlain) had advised the Prince of Wales to listen only in the early stages of the House of Lords.

"If at some stage he wanted to take part in the debate he should approach the leader of the House of Lords and it was implicit that it should be agreed between them that he would only talk on non-controversial matters in a non-controversial way."

The letter said that although there was a precedent in that King Edward VII took part while he was Prince of Wales, the Queen's private secretary had advised: "It was not necessarily a precedent which should be followed."

Another letter dated 11 March reveals that the prime minister specifically requested that if Prince Charles approached the leader of the House of Lords, he wanted to be consulted immediately.

Virulent disease

In July, 1969, the prince raised his concerns about Atlantic salmon during a speech to the London Welsh Association.

He said salmon were being netted off the Greenland coast "by modern methods which give it no chance" as well as suffering from a virulent disease.


I would have thought there was great value to be gained from rod fishing

Prince Charles
Harold Wilson immediately asked for more information on the subject from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Maff).

Maff's report was passed on to Charles, who wrote personally to Mr Wilson: "People are notoriously short-sighted when it comes to questions of wildlife and several species have been wiped out because no-one has woken up in time to the danger.

"You may not have fished yourself but to do so is immensely exciting.

Depletion warning

"The sport has a huge following in this country and as a result I would have thought there was great value to be gained from rod fishing.

"The problem at the moment seems to be if everyone waits for scientific research to salmon netting etc, the stocks will be severely depleted before any regulations are imposed.

Harold Wilson
Harold Wilson: Backed salmon concern
"And this would be tragic for netters and fishermen alike."

During a visit to Balmoral the following weekend, Mr Wilson discussed the issue further with Charles.

The prime minister subsequently arranged a meeting with the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission and persuaded it to recommend governments imposed a closed season and completely banned fishing in two areas around Norway.

Charles wrote to thank Mr Wilson: "I am delighted that the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission has decided to impose certain restrictions off Norway. At least it's a step in the right direction.

"I would like to thank you for your interest and the trouble you have taken following our conversation."


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