Monday, October 31, 2011
Ministers have been forced to seek permission from Prince Charles to pass at least a dozen government bills, according to a Guardian investigation into a secretive constitutional loophole that gives him the right to veto legislation that might impact his private interests.
Since 2005, ministers from six departments have sought the Prince of Wales’ consent to draft bills on everything from road safety to gambling and the London Olympics, in an arrangement described by constitutional lawyers as a royal “nuclear deterrent” over public policy.
Unlike royal assent to bills, which is exercised by the Queen as a matter of constitutional law, the prince’s power applies when a new bill might affect his own interests, in particular the Duchy of Cornwall, a private £700m property empire that last year provided him with an £18m income.
Neither the government nor Clarence House will reveal what, if any, alterations to legislation Charles has requested, or exactly why he was asked to grant consent to such a wide range of laws.
Correspondence seen by the Guardian reveals that one minister wrote to the prince’s office requesting his consent to a new bill about planning reform because it was “capable of applying to … [the] Prince of Wales’ private interests”.