Letters from Prince Charles to Ministers to Remain Private

  October 18, 2012 at 7:53 pm by

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The Government has blocked the release of around 20 private letters the Prince of Wales wrote to ministers between 2004 and 2005. The letters were requested under the Freedom of Information Act but the Attorney General stopped their release, maintaining that the publication could potentially undermine the Prince’s position of political neutrality.

The High Court had previously ruled that two dozen letters should be accessible under Freedom of Information Act. At the time, the judge said it was in public interest to release the letters, described by the court as “advocacy correspondence”. However, yesterday the ruling was overturned. The Attorney General said that, unlike the appeal court, he thought that the correspondence was part of Prince Charles’ preparation for kingship and his actions could not be likened to that of a lobbyist.

The Government’s chief legal officer, Dominic Grieve, stated: “The Prince of Wales is party-political neutral. I t is highly important that he is not considered by the public to favour one political party or another. This risk will arise if, through these letters, the Prince of Wales was viewed by others as disagreeing with government policy. Any such perception would be seriously damaging to his role as future monarch”. He added there was nothing “improper” in the nature or contents of the letters and that they only reflected the Prince’s “most deeply held personal views and beliefs”.

Prince Charles frequently contacts Ministers on issues ranging from environment to architecture. While the Monarch must remain apolitical, there is no law or rule that forbids the heir to the throne from contacting Ministers or other members of the Government on issues he is concerned about.

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