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Monday, January 04, 2010

Prince Charles throws a spanner into the works

He may have said that he is not going to give evidence to the Chilcott Inquiry on the Iraq War but Prince Charles has made sure that his views on this conflict have been made public today.

A senior royal aide insisted yesterday that the Prince would not allow any documents detailing discussions he had about the war with the then prime minister Tony Blair to be seen by Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry.

His refusal comes after it was claimed that, behind the scenes, Charles – who was given access to the same secret intelligence papers and briefing notes as Mr Blair – mounted a staunch anti-war crusade, lobbying senior ­politicians against invading Iraq.

Senior but unnamed sources claimed that the Prince mockingly called Mr Blair “our ­glorious leader” and blamed US President George Bush for what he deemed a misguided invasion after reviewing intelligence files.

According to the same sources, Charles warned that the war would only stir up more trouble in the region and accused Western leaders of failing to deal with what he felt was the root cause of Islamic unrest – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Frankly, the Prince thought it was madness to go to war and said so – especially knowing what he and the Prime Minister knew,” one source was quoted as saying. Another claimed: “This is about the ­decision to go to war, given what was known at the time. He thinks it was wrong and made his position clear, then and now.”

In many ways this is typical of the Royal Family. Despite being unelected, members like Prince Charles seek to exert influence and refuse to be scrutinised on their contribution. Surely, if we are to get a complete picture of all the behind-the-scenes events in the run-up to war then the Prince should give evidence.

He is said to have had the same access to documentation as the Prime Minister but drew a completely different conclusion, based on what seems to be a far more mature evaluation of the key figures pressing for an invasion than was made by Tony Blair. In that context his contribution to our understanding of the issues would be invaluable. It is time he accepted this and subjected himself to proper questioning on his role.
Totally agree Peter. From the summary of his views, Prince Charles has gone up in my estimation. But he has a vital contribution to make to the inquiry. Absolutely vital. It is infuriating that he will not give evidence. If he won't, then he should not be getting his flunkies to leak his views. He's either involved in politics or he isn't. He can't ride two horses, without eventually coming off one of them!
It is increasingly worrying that Prince Charles seems to see his role as being inherently political. We do not live in the 1500’s anymore, the role of the monarchy is to open Supermarkets and be a general drain on public finances. On this occasion, I agree with the conclusions that he has reached, but he has no right to attempt to use his position as leverage for these views. If he was concerned about government policy, he should write to his MP like a normal citizen.

It is completely inappropriate for a member of the Royal Family to use their role to attempt to influence government policy and it does not bode well for the future, as this man is likely to be King.

He has no mandate to lobby the government as anything other than a ‘concerned individual’ and the fact that he has access to detailed briefings that I am guessing the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats did not is shocking. He should not be given any privileges in terms of access to official documents.

And anyone who attempts to exert political power must be willing to put themselves forward for scrutiny. If you have a view, justify it.

Surely this is yet another reason why this outdated, expensive and unnecessary institution should be disbanded?
The only consolation this frustrated republican has from this is that it strenghtens my view that King Charles III may well do something inappropriate which helps to finish this relic of an institution off finally.

Why is he being involved anyway in decisions of this sort?
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