The so-called black spider letters from Prince Charles to Labour ministers have finally been released. But the big story isn’t a letter regarding Iraq — as some are claiming — but his secret lobbying of Tony Blair on matters impacting his own personal finances.
In September 2004, Charles wrote to the then PM on the UK’s implementation of changes to EU Common Agricultural Policy. These would affect farms on his Duchy of Cornwall estate — from which he receives millions of pounds per year.
His letter includes numerous requests for financial assistance, e.g:
“would it be possible for the Government to channel specific funds specifically to help the beef sector through the existing Agricultural Development Scheme?”
Representatives of the Duchy previously told the Public Accounts Committee that the estate itself benefits from EU farming subsidies:
The same 2005 PAC report (page 8; par 6) also reveals that Charles was not only the recipient of an annual “surplus” from the Duchy — but also had the authority to determine its level:
“In view of the Committee’s interest in the scale of the growth in the surpluses paid to The Prince, we were surprised to learn that he issues directions about the management of the estate and has the right to determine the level of the income raised, providing the Duchy meets the requirements of the Treasury …
“The Duchy did not consider there was any conflict of interest between The Prince being actively involved in management decisions and his being the current beneficiary of the surplus, and stressed the significant control that the Treasury has over the Duchy’s affairs.
Charles is lucky he’s the heir to a hereditary monarchy and not, y’know, someone who is actually accountable.