Prince Charles, in recent years, invokes the image of a dedicated family man, looking out for his children and grandchildren, while enjoying his later years alongside his wife. He loves nothing more than a potter round the garden and a chat to his plants. But that’s not always been the case, and the future King has in fact displayed his overtly political alter ego.
In 2015, the Supreme Court rule to allow the publication of the ‘black spider’ memos.
The documents are the collection of letters and notes written by Prince Charles to various government ministers and politicians over the years.
The letters provide tantalising proof of Prince Charles’s ‘meddling’ within politics which led to him being dubbed the ‘meddling Prince’.
While the letters – which cover everything from homeopathy and badger culls to education and the British armed forces – were written in a private capacity, the release sparked fears he could exercise undue influence over ministers.
In 2014, it was revealed the Prince of Wales tried to persuade Tony Blair’s government to expand grammar schools, according to former education secretary David Blunkett.
Mr Blunkett claims Prince Charles “was very keen that we should go back to a different era where youngsters had what he would have seen as the opportunity to escape from their background” – and says he “didn’t like” it when his request was refused.
Charles discussed complementary medicine with fellow Labour ministers, he said.
While former environment minister Michael Meacher alleges he and the prince “would consort together quietly” to “persuade Tony Blair to change course” on climate change and genetically modified crops.
The Prince is well known for his opinionated views – so much so that The Crown creator Peter Morgan expressed his concerns the impact of this could have on the monarchy.
He said: “[Charles] hasn’t had the platform in which to push through with his thoughts and that’s a tough thing to live with.
“It’s hard to remain silent when you have opinions, and he has a lot of opinions about everything. His memos are legendary.
“He expresses his opinions to just about everybody and anyone that will listen.
“It’s not necessarily ideal for the monarchy, but it does make him a more interesting person.”
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However, refraining from speaking out on his opinions is one royal rule the prince must follow when he claims the crown.
The Royal Family website explains: “As Head of State The Queen has to remain strictly neutral with respect to political matters.
“By convention, The Queen does not vote or stand for election.
“However Her Majesty does have important ceremonial and formal roles in relation to the government of the UK.”
But Prince Charles has spoken out about concerns he would be unable to hold his tongue, saying he is aware of the strict constraints he will have to follow as King.
In response to fears he would be a “meddling” King , he said: “I’m not that stupid.
“You can’t be the same as the sovereign if you’re the Prince of Wales or the heir. But the idea somehow that I’m going to go on in exactly the same way if I have to succeed, is complete nonsense because the two situations are completely different.
“You only have to look at Shakespeare plays, Henry V or Henry IV part I and 2, to see the change that can take place. Because if you become the sovereign then you play the role in the way that it is expected.
“So, clearly I won’t be able to do the same things I’ve done as heir. So, of course, you operate within the constitutional parameters. But it’s a different function. I think people have forgotten that the two are very different.”