Prince Charles' visit to Rwanda always risked colliding with the government's migration policy

Prince Charles and Camilla will be in Rwanda around the same time that migrants will be deported more than 4,000 miles away to the east African nation. Credit: PA

With Prince Charles about to travel to Rwanda, there was always a danger his visit to the country might collide with the controversial government policy to forcibly send asylum seekers there.

And so it has happened – sooner than most of the prince’s aides might have anticipated.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will land in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, in ten days’ time, in the Prince’s role as the future Head of the Commonwealth.

He will be representing the Queen at the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit (CHOGM), which involves the political leaders of all 54 Commonwealth countries.

It was always due to take place in Rwanda but it’s been delayed for two years because of Covid.

But that two year delay means the heir to the throne is travelling to a country at just about the same time as the first Home Office flights with asylum seekers on board – unless a legal challenge is successful.

So a clash between two sides of the British constitution - the government and the monarchy - was always going to be a risk.

A source claimed to The Times newspaper that Prince Charles said in private that the new plan to deal with the UK’s asylum seekers in this way was “appalling” and that he was “more than disappointed”.

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Whether or not he did, the claims potentially put him at odds with Priti Patel’s flagship – but much criticised – policy.

That’s a tricky place to be for a member of the Royal Family, which, protocol dictates, should remain above day-to-day politics.

A Clarence House source referred to the Times claims as “nonsense” and reiterated that Prince Charles remains “politically neutral”.

The Prince has privately lobbied ministers before on matters of public policy – and it has has often caused controversy for him when his private correspondence was made public.

He also is a vocal and committed campaigner on environmental issues.

It, once again, reminds us that he will be a very different monarch to his mother, largely because he has spent so long as a ‘campaigning’ Prince of Wales.

Charles’s aides always insists he is simply determined to use his role to effect change for those who need his help.

When the Queen ascended to the throne in 1952, she was just 25, and had never before – and never since – expressed her views on political matters.

But Prince Charles did recently acknowledged that his next job – as King – will be very different to his current job – as heir to the throne – and he will follow his mother’s example when he becomes the Sovereign.

Charles and Camilla are the first British royals ever to visit Rwanda which is a relatively new member of the Commonwealth.

They want to use their royal visit, in the days before the CHOGM summit, to focus on reconciliation following the genocide in the country in 1994, in which up to 800,000 people from the minority Tutsi community were slaughtered by Hutu extremists.

The Prince and Duchess also want to highlight Rwanda’s growing support for its natural habitats.

But with these alleged comments that the Prince thinks a flagship government policy is “appalling”, it will now be very hard to separate his Commonwealth visit to Rwanda from the home secretary’s plan to make that same African country the destination for the UK’s deported asylum seekers.