Prince Charles, it is now revealed, receives copies of confidential Cabinet documents. This has been going on secretly for 20 years and only came out in the open as a product of the Freedom of Information Act after a three-year battle by the campaign group Republic.
In justification, the Cabinet Office says the Queen and her heir should be “properly briefed”. But why should they be “briefed” any more than the rest of us are? The Queen — and ultimately him when King Charles III — has absolutely no powers to block or amend legislation. The Queen, unlike ‘ordinary’ peers of the realm well below her in social rank, doesn’t even have powers to initiate legislation.
Some who’ve opposed the practice of secret briefing go too far, however, by saying that it enables Prince Charles to be a lobbyist on all sorts of issues. Well, Prince Charles comes out with all sorts of strange ideas — and good ones, too — so why shouldn’t he a lobbyist and use all the inside information he can ay his hands on? Just like the rest of us. At least it gives Prince Charles a personality. This is something the Queen doesn’t have. Apart from her love of horses and her lack of interest in music, that’s all we know about her. She’s almost totally cloaked in a sort of sanctimonious anonymity by the civil servants who control her.
Because the royal civil servants pushed Prince Charles into a marriage with Diana he did not want in order for them to be supplied with heirs as soon as possible — for further control in due course — he subsequently became a rebel. That is, with Buckingham Palace and the civil service courtiers there, not with the rest of us. Because he had been mentored for a while by a South African naturalist, whose name escapes me and who is not mentioned in a highly sterilised account in Wikipedia, Charles learned to speak his mind increasingly. Even if it made him ridiculous sometimes — like his huggng trees — it made him very human.
Because we know a great deal about Prince Charles’s interests, cartoonists and comedians will be able to make a great deal of fun about him when he’s the King. That will be refreshing and, paradoxically, will give Charles an opportunity to be a bit more of a loose cannon if that’s what he wants to be. We’ll be able to like him and dislike him all the more than the present Queen — and that attitude to leadership is always desirable in any civilized society.