Prince Charles faces fresh meddling claims over letters to ministers

Rob Evans and Robert Booth
The Guardian 16 Dec 2009

Prince Charles was tonight facing fresh accusations of meddling in government policy after it emerged that he had written directly to ministers in eight Whitehall departments over the last three years.

The heir to the throne, who has strong views on the environment, farming and architecture, wrote to ministers in departments including the Treasury, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the education department.

Documents obtained by the Guardian also reveal that his advisers pressed senior cabinet ministers to bring government policy into line with the prince’s beliefs on matters including hosp ital building and the design of ecotowns.

The disclosures will fuel growing concern that the prince is continuing to interfere in political matters when many believe he should remain neutral if he wishes to become king.

Leaks of previous correspondence, known among ministers as “black spider memos” because of the prince’s sprawling handwriting style, provoked a backlash among politicians furious that an unelected royal was meddling in the affairs of democratic government.

The fresh evidence of his lobbying was obtained using the Freedom of Information Act, although Whitehall departments refused to release the content of the letters. The Guardian has established that since 2006 Charles wrote to politicians leading eight government departments and his advisers wrote to five.

The departments released correspondence from senior aides who run his architectural charity to Hazel Blears, then secretary of state for communities. They show how his charity urged the government to adopt Charles’s favoured approach to the ecotowns initiative.

They also wrote to Patricia Hewitt, who was health secretary, to recommend that all hospital trusts planning new buildings should use the design technique pioneered by Charles’s architecture charity.

Separately they pressed Andy Burnham, chief secretary to the Treasury at the time, to consider the findings of a study into sustainable ways of increasing the housing supply “which provides support for the [prince’s] Foundation’s mission to promote timeless and ecological ways of planning, designing and building”.

Full article here.
See also How Prince of Wales’s aides tried to influence Labour ecotowns policy – The Guardian

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