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The issue of Prince Charles lobbying on behalf of the Green movement has been discussed in this forum a number of times over the years. Previously I've expressed the opinion that eventually Charles is likely to get into some sort of trouble over his political bias, and that this might even compromise his accession to the throne. In the last year or so, it is becoming clearer as to what form this 'trouble' might take.
The problem for Charles is the issue of the "black spider memos" written by him to various government ministers over the years. [The 'black spider' phrase refers to Charles' handwriting; presumably he still uses an old-fashioned fountain pen with a very fine nib or something] The Guardian newspaper has requested release of the letters that have been rumoured to exist under the Freedom of Information Act since 2005 (which is a bit ironic, as Charles' views are likely to be very similar to the Guardian's, particularly on environmental issues), and the current status of the FOI request is described in this article:
Extracts from the article:
"Grieve had argued that disclosure of the 27 "particularly frank" letters between the prince and ministers over a seven-month period would have seriously damaged his future role as king. The attorney general said there was a risk that the prince would not be seen to be politically neutral by the public if the letters were published.
"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 because if he forfeits his position of political neutrality as heir to the throne he cannot easily recover it when he is king," Grieve had said."
So the government admits that these letters exist, and their disclosure might not be very helpful in regard to Charles taking up the throne. I can envisage a situation where these letters do get released to the public in a few years time, either by being officially released or released through the unofficial routes of them being leaked or hacked, and it will be interesting to see if Charles can survive it. If Charles is seen as being too politically biased to become King, then Prince William might have to take his place.
To give some more details of the 'black spider memos', my understanding is that Charles has been writing these since the Conservatives were in power in the 1990s, and may have even written some as far back as the 1980s. When Labour came into power in 1997 he continued with the practice, but didn't seem to appreciate that Labour politicians would not necessarily be as well disposed to the monarchy as the Conservatives, and the Labour ministers started tipping off the press that they were receiving letters from Charles and questioned his political neutrality. In a seven month period from about Oct 2004 to Apr 2005 Charles then proceeded to bombard government ministers with letters at the rate of about one per week, and this particular batch of letters are the subject of the Guardian's FOI request. The seven month period corresponds to the months just before the May 2005 General Election, and my guess is that Charles assumed that Labour would win the 2005 election and this period would be the optimum time to try to impose his ideas on them.
I would assume that the British political class would not be at all keen on the letters being leaked after Charles became King, so my bet is that they will be leaked or released in a few years time while the Queen is still alive.
One slightly disturbing development I've noticed in the past year or so is that Charles seems to be getting his two sons involved in environmentalism, but so far in the rather less politically controversial area of conserving African wildlife. I've noticed Prince William appearing in recent TV adverts (along with David Beckham and some very tall Chinese celebrity) asking us all not to buy rhino horns.
Charles and his two sons have recently been involved in organising a London conference to combat the trade in wildlife products described in this link:
As far as I can understand this, environmentalists appear to have been successfull in getting things like the ivory trade (for new ivory) banned in the 1980s. But rather than this leading to an increase in the population of elephants and rhinos, it has had the opposite effect. The demand for illegal ivory has rocketed due to China becoming considerably more wealthy. The world government-type 'solutions' to the ban not working very well, which Charles and his sons are advocating, are to treat wildlife trade as being similar to drugs, arms and people trafficking, and to try to make the purchase of wildlife products 'politically incorrect' with celebrities brought in to discourage people from buying them.
My view of this is that the problem was in listening to environmentalists in the first place about banning the ivory trade. As this Forbes article points out, if you ban ivory it's equivalent to banning elephants:
I thought it might be worth updating this old thread as the infamous "black spider memos" written by Prince Charles have now been released. It turns out the letters are actually typed to a large extent and only include a small amount of handwriting rather than being completely handwritten as the phrase "black spider memos" tends to imply.
The subject matter of the letters also turns out to be much tamer than critics of Greenery and Prince Charles' role in promoting it were expecting. My view of the letters is similar to that expressed by James Delingpole in this article:
Rather than Charles' public statements on such things as climate change, sustainability and climate sceptics representing just "the tip of the iceberg" of what he has been doing behind the scenes for years in regard to lobbying ministers, he doesn't appear to go on about Green stuff much at all in his private communications. He takes the anti-Green position of being in favour of a badger cull, and he is more interested in the plight of the Patagonian toothfish than he is in the polar bear.
It makes me wonder what Charles is up to. In public it's almost as though he's running his own personal Green NGO.
One of the top AGW sceptic and anti-Green blogs in UK in the 00s was the "An Englishman's Castle" blog, run by a Wiltshire farmer called Tim Daw (the blog now seems to have shut down). As I vaguely remember it, Daw had a different view about Charles' promotion of Greenery to that of similar bloggers. He thought Charles was less enthusiastic about Greenery than he appeared to be in public, and was simply ingratiating himself with a set of people who he was betting might be running the country in the future. There is some supporting evidence of Charles doing that sort of ingratiation thing in his youth, where he supposedly attempted to join the "Cambridge University Labour Club" in the late 1960s, but was talked out of it by some university official.
Charles may still get into a bit of trouble with the letters from some quarters. He will have irritated the Green lobby with his call for a badger cull and the left-leaning scientific community represented by New Scientist with his lobbying for alternative medicine.
I wrote to the PM once, and got a reply telling me that my comments had been noted and that regrettably they were unable, due to the volume of correspondence, to reply individually to all letters received.
I took that to mean that my correspondence had found its way to the really important cylindrical filing cabinet directly under the desk.
Shouldn't they do the same thing with Chuck, only adding that he doesn't get to vote and should surely be aware of that fact?
Charles has a lot of opinions, some of which I applaud.
However, in the green area he is perhaps a dupe of the powerful NGOs and a little too credulous.
But his letters to ministers?
Why should they be an embarrassment since he and ALL the parties seem to be obsessed with the idea that we are heading for a global meltdown.
On the other hand, the idea that the monarch should be politically neutral is a bit of a myth. I have no doubt they are not supposed to be card carrying party members but I have to think that none of the more recent governments can have met with Royal Approval. The trick is not to show it in public but I suspect the Queen was not a fan of Tony and the Wicked witch and I can't think she is a particular fan of the current PM, his deputy or their hangers on.
The queen was a fan of Churchills. But then, he was a fan of Monarchy.
So for Prince Charles to be out of line he would have to have been saying something quite remarkable.
Frankly. to paraphrase WC Fields, Anyone who hates Polticians and Government can't be all bad.
Currently I am residing in Greece. You know how when you have white paint everywhere and it all ages uniformly and you take a picture of the wall and see the contrast, that is what living in Greece does. It shows the contrast between what is and what was. Slowly, one spot fine after another, one more micromanaging moneymaking government criminalisation after another Britain has lost its democracy and become little more than a police state. Whatever its monetary problems in Greece people seem to live a life far freer than in the UK. Laws and regulations seem to be optional and no one really bothers to enforce them, least of all the petty-fogging EU regulations.
SO I would realy hope Charles partisanship is revealed to be a condemnation of all these petty rules and fines but I suspect not.
If Charlie's letters are full of pitifull admiration for the mess the government ministers are making of things, especially climate policy, then perhaps it is time to jump a generation.