The second batch of so-called “Black Spider” letters, written by Prince Charles to various ministers over several years, was released to relative media silence. Shockingly, nothing could be extracted to support the demonisation of the Heir to the Throne which has become a national sport.
When the Prince agreed to meet Gerry Adams he proved himself far more grown up than many of his critics. As I wrote at the time, I feel increasingly fortunate that this kind and genuine man will be the next King. I am also increasingly annoyed by the childishness of the 10-year battle waged by The Guardian to force the disclosure of some letters Prince Charles wrote to some government ministers several years ago.
For all its valiant efforts to beat what they saw as dusty old rules (made by Parliament, not the Monarchy), the Guardian could find no smoking guns. Not even a damp water pistol. Black Spiderman is not guilty.
Instead, the Prince of Wales’s latest letters reveal his concerns about affordable housing in rural areas (who isn’t?) and desire to protect historic buildings like Smithfield Market (who doesn’t, apart from architects and developers?). In 2007 he confessed “The terrible loss of value represented by decaying buildings such as Denbigh hospital in Wales and Torr Vale mill in Derbyshire, for instance, makes me weep!” Surely he is not alone.
As he speaks for me too, on almost every subject, the Prince of Wales makes me very proud. His views are usually ignored or derided by the political class and the media who try to portray an intelligent, thoughtful and very well-informed (as the letters prove) man as a shallow fool trying to impose his views from on high. The truth is that, over 40 years as a journalist in my adopted country, I have found that he also speaks for the vast majority of his future subjects. Popular support for his views on architecture, for instance, usually runs at 80 per cent.
The architect Lord Rogers and his wife Ruthie are very close friends of Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian’s former editor (and now sort of owner), whose Tuscany home is near theirs. Lady Rogers’s River Café Classic Italian Cook Book contains a photography credit for him. So when Lord Rogers’s most ambitious recent project, a design for the Chelsea Barracks site in central London, was blown out of the water by Prince Charles expressing – in private – a widely-shared distaste for the Rogers plans, the Guardian denounced him Royally.
Now however, even the Guardian has had to acknowledge that many of his “high level” approaches were simply rebuffed by the recipients – and none of them were sent to the Tower.
My own experience is that whenever the Prince “meddles” in a matter affecting his future subjects, his instincts are consistently sounder, wiser and more sensitive than any political decision ultimately taken. It appears that the shutters have now come down on the FoI approach and no further letter will be revealed.
I hope the revelation of some of his interjections will not stop Prince Charles from carrying on. We need him to continue speaking his timeless truths to transient political power.