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Prince Charles Not Shy About Sharing His Political Views

Royalty: The heir to the British throne writes to lawmakers on topics ranging from hunting to felling trees. Some say he should run for office if he wants a role.

September 29, 2002|SUE LEEMAN | ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

LONDON — He's already known as a critic of modern architecture, an advocate of organic farming and a fan of hunting with hounds.

But Prince Charles, it seems, is also a foe of political correctness and what he calls an "American-style" growth in personal litigation.

Charles' office, which confirmed that he has been sharing his opinions with government ministers, says it's part of his royal role.

Officially, the government doesn't mind. Prime Minister Tony Blair "has an excellent relationship with the Prince of Wales and welcomes the fact that he keeps in touch with him and other ministers," Blair's office said.

The Daily Mail newspaper reported that the heir to the throne has been writing regularly to government ministers to protest everything from the "politically correct" felling of a row of horse-chestnut trees to the way meals are cooked for the elderly.

To the fiercely royalist Daily Mail -- which accused the government of leaking the letters in an effort to shame Charles -- this was only the prince doing his bit for the common man. But one Labor lawmaker said the prince should run for Parliament if he wants a more political role.

"Let's not kid ourselves that Prince Charles is a representative of ordinary people. This is someone who was born with a mouthful of silver spoons, a mega-wealthy farmer who's looking for things to do so he fires off letters," Ian Davidson, who represents a district in Glasgow, Scotland, told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.

But Lord Russell, a member of the House of Lords, said the right to advise "is the central role of monarchy" -- a line adopted by Charles' office at St. James's Palace.

"The Prince of Wales takes an active interest in all aspects of British life and believes that as well as celebrating success, part of his role must be to highlight problems and represent views in danger of not being heard," said his spokeswoman, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Traditionally, the royals stay out of politics, but Charles has spoken out on a range of pet subjects. At times, he has shown the kind of bluntness associated with his father, Prince Philip.

The Daily Mail said Charles -- who recently wrote the prime minister urging him not to ban hunting -- "has been engaged in a long-running campaign of letter-writing" to Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine, Britain's top legal official.

In one, Charles reportedly inveighed against "the very real and growing prospect of an American-style personal injury 'culture' becoming ever more prevalent in this country."

In another, Charles reportedly complained about "the degree to which our lives are becoming ruled by a truly absurd degree of politically correct interference," citing the case of seven mature horse-chestnut trees felled last year by a local council that feared falling nuts might injure passersby.

And he was said to complain about a growth of red tape affecting homes for the elderly, including the stipulation that wooden chopping boards be replaced with color-coded plastic ones, which proved less hygienic.

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