The Guardian finally won its legal battle to publish the Prince of Wales' correspondence. The Supreme Court agreed to their Freedom of Information (FOI) request to allow the release of letters sent between the Prince of Wales and Tony Blair's Labour #Government during the period 2004-2005, including some to the #Prime Minister himself.
The letters show a level of political interference or lobbying as he wrote to leading politicians including Blair, Education Secretaries Charles Clarke and Ruth Kelly, Health Secretary John Reid and Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell.
Charles commented across a wide range of issues including education, military, fishing, retail, herbal medicine and even badger culling, as well as some of his favoured topics - architecture and agriculture. Indeed, Tony Blair's commented in one of his replies how he would "look forward to your views - but perhaps particularly on agricultural topics."
Airing his views - a selection
On education: he wanted "teachers of English and History to come together to engage with the questions from first principles as to why teach English and History."
On herbal medicine: "the European Union Directive on Herbal Medicines… is having such a deleterious effect on complementary medicine sector in this country …. I think we both agreed this was using a sledgehammer to crack a nut."
On replacing Lynx helicopters: "I fear that this is just one more example of where our Armed Forces are being asked to do an extremely challenging job without the necessary resources."
On supermarkets: "There is no doubt that the dominant position of the retailers is the single biggest issue affecting British farmers and the food chain."
On badger culling: "unless something is done urgently we could end up with another food scare … I, …, cannot understand how the "badger lobby" seem to mind not all about the slaughter of thousands of expensive cattle, and yet object to a managed cull of over-population of badgers - to me, this is intellectually dishonest."
His activity continues
His political interventions did not cease then. During 2010 he was recorded as having held 87 meetings with ministers from all parties. This year he has met with current political leaders such as David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon.
The Guardian therefore feels vindicated in their pursuit of this matter thanks to the powers of FOI. The paper wanted to show that everyone is subject to the same degree of transparency, whatever their position in society. Despite successive Governments trying to block the release of the documents at a cost of more than £400,000 to the public, the courts decided in favour of the request.
The public are now aware that unlike his mother, Charles has retained a direct interest in the goings-on at Westminster and has felt the need to express his opinion to those in power. He has offered solutions on national issues.
When the King-in-waiting passes comment, it would take a strong leader to ignore his input. From the tone of Blair's replies, it seems there was a mutual appreciation between the King and PM though it is uncertain how much impact the Prince has had on Government policy. However, the publication has once again raised the issue of royal neutrality in British politics.