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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 2 January, 2003, 16:56 GMT
Private Royal letters published
Prince Philip

The Public Record Office has released letters from Prince Philip to the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, in the late 1960's in which he gives Mr Wilson the benefit of his strong views on international affairs.

In one, the Prince urges that the Queen be allowed to visit Thailand.

In another he suggests that West Indian islands do not really want independence.

If the Queen were to visit Malaysia without also paying a visit to Thailand, it would be taken as a deliberate snub and a studied insult

Prince Philip to Harold Wilson

The file also contains letters from Prince Charles who was already showing his interest in the environment by urging action to save the wild salmon.

Prince Philip might feel a bit aggrieved that his letters have been published as he suggests in one of them that perhaps they "should be burnt" after reading.

His report on the Leeward and Windward Islands in the West Indies, dated 25 November 1965, said: "Whatever the politicians say, there seems to be very little demand for interest in complete independence".

It was his view, he went on, that "the islanders view their relationship with Britain to be much the same as the relationship between the Scilly or Channel Islands and Britain".

The reference to the Scillies was not by chance.

Harold Wilson was well known for having a holiday house there.

Extreme rudeness

Mr Wilson's reply is not in the files. Nor are a number of other royal letters to the prime minister which are still being held back.

The islands did eventually become independent despite the Duke's reservations.

Harold Wilson
Wilson received numerous letters from the Royals

Prince Philip was even more forthright on the subject of a royal visit to Thailand.

In July 1967, he fumed in a letter to Mr Wilson that the government was opposed to such a visit. He called it "a gratuitous gesture of extreme rudeness" to Thailand.

"If the Queen were to visit Malaysia without also paying a visit to Thailand, it would be taken as a deliberate snub and a studied insult", wrote Prince Philip.

He had been there himself, he said, and "if the crowds of friendly people who turned out to welcome me are anything to go by, the reception given to the Queen would be nothing short of tumultuous".

Prince Philip's correspondence with the prime minister began rather more warmly.

He sent a telegram to Mr Wilson when Labour won the 1964 election: "Delighted to see that resident of Duchy of Cornwall is new tenant at Downing Street".

Mr Wilson wittily replied, referring to his holiday cottage: " Thanks to the generous attitude of the Duchy, my residence within the Duchy of Cornwall is a freehold as against the tied cottage status of my tenure of Downing Street".

Papers released under the 30 year rule reveal Heath government plans to expel hundreds of Catholics from NI and create a Protestant-only province

NI secrets revealed

Previous revelations

Background

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