Coffee House

Letting his opinions be known

19 November 2009

Today’s Evening Standard features an interview with Bernice McCabe, co-director of the Prince’s Teaching Institute. McCabe tells the paper that:

“He [the Prince of Wales] is very passionate about the fact that children need a good grasp of literature and that all children need to understand the history of our country,” she said. “He is passionate that these subjects should remain there in the curriculum.”

I happen to agree with the Prince of Wales on this point, but it is completely unacceptable that someone is speaking for him on what is a political issue. The monarchy survives in this country on the basis that it doesn’t express political opinions in public, a rule that the Queen has observed. (Clarence House is saying there is nothing to comment on because the Prince hasn’t said anything himself, but this argument doesn’t really work as McCabe is saying what his views are and it is therefore up to the Prince’s spokespeople to say that McCabe doesn’t speak for him).  If Prince Charles wants to continuing expressing views on subjects that are part of political debate like education, climate change, and the built environment then we are heading for a constitutional disaster.  

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  • Magnus

    I think you’re defining political so broadly as to make it impossible for Prince Charles to say anything at all. “Clarence House – HRH Prince Charles says weather is a bit wet this summer.” becomes “Prince Intervenes in Flooding Debate – Where will his meddling end?”

    If it is ‘too political’ for the Prince to say, ‘children ought to be properly educated, eh.’ then I feel sorry for the man. I’d rather more people listen to the Prince than almost any of the crazed politicians in the Labour Party.

    Everything the Prince says is perfectly reasonable, and perfectly sensible (except, perhaps, on homeopathy), and in his role as patron of various organizations he has every right to say these things. He’s not being party political or attacking particular policies, unless you count his entirely justified objections to governments and councils blighting our country with horrific ‘architecture’. Good on him, I think.

  • Andre

    Peter From Maidstone I take your point about respecting the office rather than the office holder. I think this works in the church in that the office confers supernatural or divine grace upon the holder (some of the time). However with kings I don’t accept this is so. Politically the monarchy has survived because the people wanted it to. When they haven’t the results have been quite distressing – I do hope HRH is mindful of the fate of his namesake. Even Queen Victoria was lectured on the damage her protracted mourning for her husband, Albert, was doing to the monarchy. Come Wallis Simpson in the 1930s and the king was forced to abdicate for the sake of the monarchy – and a the country which would not settle for a divorced American as queen consort – special relationship notwithstanding. I make this prediction: Charles will never be king. The crown will pass – if it survives at all – to William. Mind you it might prove wiser to restore the house of Stuart – the current pretender is a Bavarian duke, an anti-Nazi he was banged up by Hitler during the war and is a good catholic to boot. One in the eye for Brussels.


    We’re all agreed then
    Prince Charles should ideally be learning History and Literature.
    Not much sign of progress yet.

  • Peter

    Unless he is prepared to abide by the conventions which his mother has so assiduously done for 50 years he should renounce his rights to the throne in favour of his son and speak in the Lords as an Hereditary Peer, with no more rights or responsibilities than a commoner.

    He speaks a mixture of poppycock and good sense, but at present his position allows his words undue sway and weight.

  • EC

    Andy Carpark,

    Metaphorically speaking, was that also an innuendo?

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