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EDITIONS
Thursday, 26 September, 2002, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
Charles' right to write under scrutiny
Prince Charles visits a Bradford recording studio
The Prince's Trust works with young people
Prince Charles has come under fresh fire for attacking government policy as the row over his private letters to ministers deepens.


Good luck Charlie - and I hope you carry on with your Tory propaganda

Tony Benn
The prince is said to have "bombarded" ministers, including the Lord Chancellor, with complaints on issues ranging from "compensation culture" and red tape to political correctness.

Sources close to the prince, who insist he has a right to highlight problems in danger of not being heard, say he is angry that letters intended for ministers' eyes only have found their way into the press.

The letters have been seized on by anti-royal campaigners, who claim the prince's actions strengthen the case for an elected head of state.

'Democracy'

Ex-Labour MP and staunch republican Tony Benn urged the Prince of Wales to carry on expressing his views.


Thank goodness we have a serious Prince of Wales rather than a playboy who just gets drunk in nightclubs

Lord Onslow
"The attacks on him at the moment are ridiculous. He should be allowed to say what he wants about everything.

"And the more he says the more people will say, 'thank you very much, now can we have the one right you are denying us, the right to choose our head of state'."

Mr Benn added: "Good luck Charlie - and I hope you carry on with your Tory propaganda.

"And if you emigrate, as you said you will do if they ban hunting, you will make your final contribution to the democratisation of Britain."

'Barmy'

Labour MP Paul Flynn said the prince's views on fox hunting and GM foods reflected the narrow concerns of a multi-millionnaire landowner.

Lord Chancellor
The prince allegedly wrote to the Lord Chancellor
"If he achieves the job of head of state he has to represent all of us.

"And he can't do that if he is a controversial figure making statements on everything, some of them sensible, some of them eccentric, some of them barmy," Mr Flynn told Today.

Mr Flynn said the success of the monarchy under the present Queen was "because she has kept above such issues".

He urged the prince to "remain silent on political issues" if he intended to become King.

Prince's Trust

The prince's views were defended by Tory peer Lord Onslow.

"He has every right to write to ministers.

"And thank goodness we have a serious Prince of Wales rather than a playboy who just gets drunk in nightclubs and behaves in that sort of way."

Lord Onslow said the Prince's Trust had "done more for inner city deprived children than any government policy over the last 20 years".

This proved Prince Charles was not just concerned with his own narrow interests.

Leak inquiry

Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore said Prince Charles' "motives should be respected and his views should be listened to".

He said the prince provided an important alternative view to that of Brussels bureaucrats and the "government machine".

A Whitehall leak inquiry is said to be underway into how details of the letters came to appear in the Daily Mail.

A spokesman for the prince said part of his role was to "highlight problems and represent views which are in danger of not being heard" and this could only be done if "complete confidentiality is maintained."

'Excellent relationship'

The prince has already come under fire over claims that he had written to Prime Minister Tony Blair to relay countryside campaigners' views that they were being treated worse than ethnic minorities or gay people.

And in August he urged Downing Street to do more to help British citizens in Zimbabwe.

The prime minister's official spokesman would only say that No 10 had "an excellent relationship with the Prince of Wales and welcomes the fact that he keeps in touch with him and other ministers".

Compensation culture

The letters containing criticisms of the growth of regulations, bureaucracy and the rise of litigation.

"I and countless others dread the very real and growing prospect of an American-style personal injury 'culture' becoming ever more prevalent in this country," the prince was said to have written.

He also complained about "the degree to which our lives are becoming ruled by a truly absurd degree of politically correct interference", giving the example of horse chestnut trees being felled in Norwich last year over fears that falling conkers could injure passers-by.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Andrew Marr
"Prince Charles can and often does tell the Queen's ministers exactly what he thinks in private"
Political historian Anthony Howard
"The prince probably hasn't got enough to do"
Boris Johnson MP and Stephen Pound MP
"He's got himself into massively deep water"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Prince's politics
Should Royals get involved in political affairs?
 VOTE RESULTS
Should Prince Charles get involved in politics?

Yes
 64.83% 

No
 35.17% 

6798 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

25 Sep 02 | Politics
25 Sep 02 | Politics
25 Sep 02 | Politics
13 Aug 02 | Politics
01 Jul 02 | England
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