The Prince and the Parliament

A Response

I must take issue with the assertions made under the above title in the November 2002 issue; they seem to be an oblique swipe at the Monarchy rather than any solid criticism of Prince Charles. Ron concedes that the Prince has the ‘same right as anyone else to air his views’, but objects to his writing about them to the Prime Minister. Ron suggests that ‘because his letters will be read’, Charles is ‘using his position to enter the political ring’. Now, if Charles is entitled to air his views, does it not follow that he is entitled to air them in a letter to the P.M. and, to expect that letter to be read? I personally do not regard myself as being strongly political, but one does not have to enter the political arena either to have, or to air genuine concerns about developments which one considers to be detrimental. Over the past few years I have had concerns which have prompted me to write both to my MP and to government ministers. My letters have been read and I have bad replies; I am quite happy for Prince Charles to have those same privileges.

Let me say, at this point; that I am extremely glad that I do not have to live as a serf in thrall under the old-style kings, dukes, barons or lords of the manor! Those days, thankfully, have gone; the Monarch and the Royal Family no longer have that kind of power. Many people in the country seem quite happy to have the Queen as a figurehead, together with all the pomp and ceremony – and expense- which goes with that. Now, whether this is a good or a bad thing is arguable, but, in the circumstances which apply to the Royal Family today, it is hardly fair on Charles, nor true, to say, as Ron does, that ‘he is able to exercise power without responsibility’. It seems to me that the exact opposite applies: Charles has often shown responsibility by voicing his genuine concerns, but he certainly has no actual power to dictate what is done about them.

Again, Ron says:’ He can express his views very forcibly but does not have to listen to those who might disagree with him.’ All of us can be guilty of this, of course, but I suggest that this criticism could be more justly levelled at the PM than at Charles. The Prime Minister has frequently been criticised for ignoring his ministers’ wishes and having his own way. This autocratic style was well in evidence too when it became clear that the majority of the general public decided that they objected to having their foodstuffs genetically modified. The Prime Minister treated them as morons, calling them ‘anti-science’. He seemed hell-bent on backing the new dukes and barons – the multinational giants who are intent on controlling the world’s basic foodstuffs – instead of listening to his electors.

Returning to Ron’s article: I think that his seeming implication that the quotation from Walter Bagehot (1867) applies to Prince Charles is not only unfair, it is unwarranted. To say that any of this applies to the Prince today would be a travesty of the facts. Also, to suggest that the character of the Prince leads one to think that such invective will be justified if and when he becomes King is, I suggest, letting one’s imagination run riot.

Cyril Marsters

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