1. ITV Report

Palace defends Prince Charles minister visits as 'his duty'

Palace defends Prince Charles' minister visits. Photo: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

The Palace has defended the Prince Wales' frequent meetings with Cabinet ministers as a part of his 'duty'.

The Prince of Wales has held 36 private meetings with Cabinet ministers since the last general election.

  • Charles has had seven private meetings with Prime Minister David Cameron
  • He has had talks with Labour leader Ed Miliband on three occasions
  • And privately spoken to Nick Clegg once

A Clarence House spokesman said the Prince has a "duty to communicate privately with the Government on any matter he chooses".

The Prince is known for his strong views on green issues and rural affairs but is meant to be politically neutral in his role as heir to the throne.

Last month, the Attorney General's decision to block public disclosure of letters Charles wrote to Government ministers was upheld by three High Court judges.

The Prince of Wales judges the Tug of War as Chieftain of the Mey Highland Games. Credit: Andrew Milligan /PA Wire

Anti-monarchy group Republic accused the Prince of dishonesty and said he was only meeting ministers from departments relevant to his own interests.

Republic chief executive Graham Smith said:

Charles's claim that his meetings with ministers are part of his preparation for being king are simply untrue.

Charles is abusing his position to promote his own interests and his pet issues. Such dishonesty needs to be directly challenged by MPs and in public.

It is telling that while claiming to be meeting MPs in preparation for being king, Charles has not once met with Treasury or justice department ministers. He is only meeting ministers relevant to his political interests.

Since May 2010, when the Coalition government came into power, Charles has also met:

  • Chancellor George Osborne
  • Education Secretary Michael Gove
  • Business Secretary Vince Cable
  • Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith
  • Andrew Mitchell when he was International Development Secretary
  • Jeremy Hunt, while he was Culture, Media and Sport Minister

A Clarence House spokesman said that, during the meetings between the Prince and ministers, Charles brings "important insights, perspectives and knowledge built over 40 years of experience in a range of areas aimed at transforming lives and building sustainable communities".

His Royal Highness receives ministers and officials from a broad range of Government departments on a regular basis, either in office meetings or through initiatives such as the cross-party Campaign for Youth Social Action, which he will lead, or addressing the issue of illegal trade in wildlife.

Official meetings, sometimes instigated by ministers, are important to the Prince in his role as heir to the throne.

The Prince of Wales has a right - indeed it is his duty - to communicate privately with the Government on any matter he chooses, to bring his unique perspective and reflect the many issues people raise with him personally on his extensive engagements around the country.

Given these broad areas of interest, as well as specific events such as the Jubilee and Olympics, it is inevitable that HRH may, at times, see some ministers more than others.

– Clarence House spokesperson