Just days after the first UK flight takes migrants to Rwanda, Prince Charles will visit the country for an unconnected trip, Sam Holder reports
Prince Charles is said to remain “politically neutral”, despite having reportedly branded the government’s policy to send migrants to Rwanda “appalling”.
The Times newspaper said a source had heard the Prince of Wales express opposition to the policy several times in private, and that he was “more than disappointed” by it.
The comments were reported after a High Court ruling paved the way for the first flight to the east African country to go ahead on Tuesday.
A Clarence House spokesman said: “We would not comment on supposed anonymous private conversations with the Prince of Wales, except to restate that he remains politically neutral. Matters of policy are decisions for government.”
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As head of state, Charles’s mother the Queen has to remain strictly neutral with respect to political matters and does not vote or stand for election, the royal family’s official website says.
Traditionally, royals do not become involved in political matters.
However Charles, a future king, has been outspoken in the past and faced criticism over his involvement in public and political issues.
How many people will be on Tuesday's flight to Rwanda?
On Friday, the High Court said the first flight to take 31 asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda could go ahead.
On Saturday, 15 of these people have had their tickets cancelled on Saturday. They will no longer be sent to Rwanda because there's evidence they have been tortured, trafficked or have a medical condition which makes it unsafe to deport them.
Care 4 Calais, a charity assisting the 15, expressed concerned that had they not stepped in, most of these asylum seekers would have been flown to Rwanda.
As for the other 16 booked for Tuesday's flight, whether they leave depends of the Court of Appeal's ruling on Monday
In 2015, Charles had to defend his decision to write a series of letters to government ministers, some of which are known as the “black spider” memos, so-called because of his use of black ink.
At the time, Clarence House said the correspondence – on issues including a lack of resources for armed forces fighting in Iraq, the benefits of complementary medicine, and the need for affordable rural homes – showed “the range of the Prince of Wales’s concerns and interests for this country and the wider world”.
In the same year there was controversy when it emerged Charles had been routinely receiving copies of confidential Cabinet papers for more than 20 years.
As well as the Queen, it included the Prince of Wales, although it was not suggested he had requested access. Heirs to the throne were believed to have been included in the group since the 1930s.
In a BBC documentary to mark his 70th birthday in 2018, Charles said he would stop speaking out on issues when he became king, saying he was “not that stupid” to continue what some had termed “meddling”.
The prince acknowledged he would not be “able to do the same things I’ve done as heir”, and as monarch would have to operate within “constitutional parameters”.
Writing in The Spectator, Mr Hunt said that in the latest instance regarding Rwanda, despite the statement from Clarence House, Charles has not been neutral in making the reported comments. Mr Hunt added: “A man teetering on the edge of inheriting a unifying role as Head of the Nation has entered a divisive debate very firmly on the side of Boris Johnson’s opponents. “One day those occupying the roles of Prime Minister and Home Secretary will be devising immigration policy as members of His Majesty’s Government.”
In 2020, Buckingham Palace appeared to distance itself from comments made by Charles’s son, the Duke of Sussex, as Harry urged people in the US to “reject hate speech” and vote in the presidential elections.
Harry faced a backlash amid claims of political interference and suggestions he was telling people to vote against Donald Trump.
Although UK law does not ban royalty from voting, it is considered unconstitutional for them to do so.
Buckingham Palace highlighted the fact that Harry was no longer a working royal, and said his remarks were made in a “personal capacity”.