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King Charles III (part 3)

Charles will one day be our king. But is he fit for the role? Dr George Venturini explores this question in this six-part series. (You can read Part 1 and Part 2 here).

A real ‘Charlie’

For too long the Prince of Wales has shown himself too vain to accept the limits of constitutional monarchy, perhaps because he is closer in his frame of mind to his eleventh predecessor, George I, who did not even speak English.

As one Nick Cohen put it in a blog on 4 February 2015, “When republicans meet, we console ourselves with the thought that our apparently doomed cause will revive. The hereditary principle guarantees that eventually a dangerous fool will accede to a position he could never have attained by merit, we chortle. With Charles III, we have just the fool we need.”

One wonders whether Mr. Cohen is familiar with Thomas Paine – a former Englishman, by the way – observations on monarchy and hereditary succession in his Common sense, the pamphlet Paine wrote in 1775–76 which inspired people in the Thirteen Colonies to declare and fight for independence from Great Britain in the summer of 1776. Here is what he wrote: “To the evil of monarchy we have added that of hereditary succession; and as the first is a degradation and lessening of ourselves, so the second, claimed as a matter of right, is an insult and imposition on posterity. For all men being originally equals, no one by birth could have a right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others for ever, and tho’ himself might deserve some decent degree of honours of his contemporaries, yet his descendants might be far too unworthy to inherit them. One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in Kings, is that nature disapproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule, by giving mankind an ASS FOR A LION.” [Capitals in original]

To place the final stone on the matter of an Australian republic, one should remember that as recent as 2010, Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard – a Welch-born, a descendant of English, Irish and Scottish, a 1974 migrant, a formally educated Arts/Law graduate in 1986, briefly an industrial lawyer and ostensibly a Left-leaning organiser – abandoned herself to colonial fatalism by saying that, while she felt that the status quo could not continue, and that as a country Australia needed to work its way through to an agreement on a model for a republic, she thought that there would never be enough support to replace the monarchy as long as the queen was on the throne.

When, then?

Breaking with tradition

According to the U.K. press, Prince Charles does not want to be like his mother Queen Elizabeth II. As recently as November 2014, long time friends of Prince Charles revealed to Britain’s The Guardian that the heir to the U.K. throne will make “heartfelt interventions” in national life as monarch, rather than following the “mould of his mother.”

“The prince understands the need to be careful about how he expresses concerns or asks questions, but I do think he will keep doing exactly that.” Another of the prince’s friends told The Guardian. “He feels these issues are too serious to ignore.”

Now 67-year-old, Charles is portrayed as a ‘passionate’ prince with an array of deeply-held views on issues from farming to architecture. And he speaks with aristocratic de haut en bas interventions on just about any subject. To some – mainly a troop of adulators, courtiers, sycophants, lackeys of all kind – he is a trailblazer. They would say so. They claim the Prince to be championing issues of sustainable development before they caught national attention. Others see him as an all-around-ignorant, a nuisance pushing eccentric causes. His outspokenness has prompted debate in the U.K. about how the monarchy would change if he becomes King Charles III. He held 36 meetings with government ministers between 2010 and 2013 since the Conservative-led coalition took power in 2010. This was up 13 from the same period of the last Labour Government. Critics said that it showed how much he enjoyed undue political influence.

His interventions into public life to date have already raised the ire of anti-monarchists. Former U.K. ministers told the British Broadcasting Corporation earlier in the year that the Prince had lobbied them to change policy in areas such as education and climate change.

“Charles is a very good advert for why the monarchy is a bad idea.” a spokesman for anti-monarchy group Republic told the B.B.C. “The monarch has power, access and influence, and is completely beyond the reach of democratic accountability.”

The Prince’s office, Clarence House, declined to comment on his plans for the throne. “Speculation about the Prince of Wales’s future role as king has been around for decades but it is not something we have commented on and nor will we do so now.” a spokeswoman said.

Charles’ supporters insist he fully understands the difference between his latitude to speak out as Prince, and the importance of his neutrality if he becomes king. Leading U.K. constitutional expert Prof. Vernon Bogdanor told London’s The Times: “There is no question of him making any interventions which are not approved by the government of the day … He is extremely sensitive to constitutional tradition.”

“It is true that the style of the monarchy would change because he is a different person to the Queen.” Bogdanor added.

Probably correct. But how different ?

The more informed comments were part of a wide-ranging investigation by The Guardian into the possible shape of a King Charles III monarchy. The Supreme Court was about to consider whether 27 letters between Charles and government ministers should be published following a ten-year freedom of information battle between The Guardian and Whitehall. The government and the Palace argued that correspondence and meetings with ministers were a necessary part of Charles’ preparation for kingship and in 2012 the then Attorney General Dominic Grieve said that they had to be kept confidential to protect Charles’s position of political neutrality. The letters were finally released to the public on 13 May 2015. Nicknamed the “black spider memos”, for the Prince’s unusually spiky handwriting, the letters were sent to a wide variety of government departments.

Prince Charles wrote in October 2004 to the then Environment Minister Elliot Morley, wishing him “well in your endeavours” to curb illegal fishing by trying to “bring to heel the recalcitrant countries who sanction, either directly or by turning a blind eye.”

Charles asked: “Is the Royal Navy, for instance, included in the discussions on this issue”?

The Prince suggested the use of the Royal Navy for enforcement activity, and mentioning in particular illegal fishing of the Patagonian Toothfish continued in a mournful vein: “until that trade is stopped, there is little hope for the poor old albatross, for which I shall continue to campaign.” He concluded saying: “Let us hope that between all of us who mind about sustainable fishing, we can make a difference before it is too late.”

Writing to the then Education Secretary Charles Clarke in November 2004, Prince Charles criticised modern teaching methods and urged the creation of a teacher training institute which would address a “gap in the teaching of English and history” identified by his own Educational Summer Schools. Describing himself as “someone with such old-fashioned views” (!), Charles wrote that his Summer schools were “challenging the fashionable view that teachers should not impart bodies of knowledge, but instead act as ‘facilitators’ or ‘coaches,’ a notion which I find difficult to understand, I must admit. I do pray we could discuss these matters more fully before irrevocable decisions are taken.” – signed Prince Charles.

Asking for support for the initiative into 2005 and beyond, the Prince added “perhaps I am now too dangerous to associate with.”

The Prince wrote to the then Prime Minister Tony Blair warning him that the armed forces did not have adequate resources the year after Britain went to war in Iraq. He had particular concerns about problems with Britain’s surveillance capability, crucial to the operations in Iraq. He told Mr. Blair that he was worried about delays to replacements for the Lynx aircrafts due to “significant pressure on the defence budget.”

He wrote of a major advance in surveillance technology, that he had seen in action in Northern Ireland, and warned: “The aim of the Ministry of Defence and the Army Air Corps to deploy this equipment globally is, however, being frustrated by the poor performance of the existing Lynx aircraft in high temperatures. Despite this, the procurement of a new aircraft to replace the Lynx is subject to further delays and uncertainty due to the significant pressure on the Defence Budget. I fear that this is just one more example of where our Armed Forces are being asked to so an extremely challenging job (particularly in Iraq) without the necessary resources.” Mr. Blair wrote back saying that “replacement of Lynx and Gazelle reconnaissance and surveillance capacity will be a priority.”

In September 2004 the Prince wrote to Mr. Blair that it would be “splendid if the government could find ways” to encourage consumers to demand British produce, as without their support British agriculture and the countryside would not survive.” Despite acknowledging the fact that “European rules preclude the government from running a campaign to promote, solely, British produce” the Prince wrote “I only wish that more could be done to encourage people to buy British.”

Writing in February 2005 to Mr. Blair, Prince Charles – himself a farmer – became involved into the extremely contentious debate over whether to cull badgers to prevent the spread of tuberculosis in cattle. The Prince told Mr. Blair: “I, for one, cannot understand how the ‘badger lobby’ seem to mind not at all about the slaughter of thousands of expensive cattle, and yet object to a managed cull of an over-population of badgers – to me, this is intellectually dishonest.”

In a letter to the Department of Health in 2005, Charles wrote about his concerns regarding the redevelopment of a hospital, stating that he was frustrated by the log-jam which had prevented it. He said control of hospital estates had caused him “growing anxiety.”

Charles wrote: “I fear that if the estates are transferred now without proper consideration, various chickens will come home to roost in your own department in coming years as the physical and mental well-being of future communities is affected.”

Charles asked to be consulted before any further decisions were made. “I do pray we could discuss these matters more fully before irrevocable decisions are taken.”

In 2005, in a message to Dame Tessa, who was a Labour Member of Parliament from 1992 to 2015, asking about the conservation of Antarctic huts built for the first polar expeditions, Charles wrote that he was “at a loss” to understand why the restoration was considered to be an “overseas” project, due to there being British territory in the Antarctic. “Whatever the case, and however futile my plea to you for a bit of imaginative flexibility in the interpretation of these rules, I just wanted to emphasize the iconic importance of these huts.” he wrote.

The Prince also offered to help find wealthy individuals to help the conservation project if the government could not find the funding.

The move to publish the letters followed a Freedom of Information Act request by The Guardian and a ten year legal battle. In March 2015 the Supreme Court approved their release, after it had previously been blocked by former Attorney-General Dominic Grieve. The letters were finally released on 13 May 2015.

Speaking for the Prince, Clarence House had earlier said it was “disappointed the principle of privacy had not been upheld.”

Charles has been particularly vocal in lobbying against the Human Rights Act, writing “rubbish” on a response he received in 2001 from Lord Irvine who, while Lord Chancellor, defended the Act to Charles.

In March 2015 Prime Minister David Cameron said he was disappointed at the court’s decision, saying: “This is about the principle that senior members of the Royal Family are able to express their views to government confidentially. I think most people would agree this is fair enough.” This is likely to be the only glimpse the U.K. public gets of Charles’ correspondence with ministers. Since the original request by The Guardian to see the letters the government has tightened up the Freedom of Information Act to provide an “absolute exemption” on all requests relating to the Queen and the heir to the throne, making future release very unlikely.

Few supporters of the monarchy understand that Prince Charles’ views are almost medieval in their obscurity. His published writings show that in the dispute between Galileo and the papacy, the future English sovereign is on the side of the papacy and against the scientific method, and remains on the papacy’s side four centuries after the event and long after the church has conceded defeat.

Charles is an old man who lacks a well-rounded adult’s ability to learn his own limitations as well as the limitations of monarchical power. As the reign of Charles III approaches, it is the duty of monarchists to tackle him. The hereditary principle is their system. Prince Charles is their problem. It should not become Australia’s problem. At the very least, the English monarchists should insist on their Parliament defining where a royal can intervene in politics and public life. If they had any sense – and one doubts that grovellers and hangers-on do – they would insist on the crown skipping a generation. They must surely have seen enough by now. They must surely know that a King Charles III will be nothing but trouble.

Let it be English, or the Ukanian empire’s trouble.

After the publication of Charles’ letters, Paul Flynn, a Labour Member of Parliament and a member of the political and constitutional reform committee, correctly summed it up by saying that the letters lifted the lid on the activity of the “the lobbyist supreme in the land.”

Little Paul Flynn knew!

To be continued. Tomorrow … Prince Charles, ‘the dove’ and ‘the peace’

GeorgeVenturini Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini devoted some sixty years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents.




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  1. harshmind

    Your articles pointing out that the Royals have feet of clay, or worse, are good festive season entertainment but they also expose a weakness the Republican model needs to address if it is to prevail. We know what we are getting with Charles. His life has hardly been private and to his credit he does appear to care for the environment. The treatment of the in-bred sisters is hardly Charles’ fault and if he wants to scribble notes to government ministers, why not? They probably just chuck them in the bin. The real question is, who should these titular heads of state be replaced by? There are any number of prominent Australians to choose from, but the betting is it would be someone with money, clout and the ear of government (Charles might recognise a kindred spirit) or some populist buffoon. Clive Trump anyone? Whether the President is nominated by the Government or elected by popular vote, the omens are not that great, given who we elect to actually try and run the country.

  2. harshmind

    What does Canada say, now they seem to have something approaching a representative gummnt? Quite envious.

  3. Pingback: King Charles III (part 3) – » The Australian Independent Media Network | 61chrissterry

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