I first became aware that there may be a problem on 7th January when a source, who we’ll call ‘Steve’ contacted me with an extraordinary story. The Queen, he told me, had been unwell and it looked likely that Prince Charles might become Prince Regent and take over the Queen’s constitutional duties. However, there was a big problem. There were many within the Establishment who had grave concerns that Prince Charles was too political and would interfere in government policy and so I should view the big Prince Andrew/Jeffrey Epstein stories in The Daily Mail, which at the time had just begun, in the context of this. If Prince Charles did not make a “deal” soon then there would be further revelations in the media.
I was intrigued enough at the time to contact a friend of mine who is a senior journalist, someone I can talk to and I recounted what I had been told. My friend, far from pouring cold water on the entire idea, felt that there were elements of the story which were very plausible and we both agreed to look into this.
I should say here that neither he nor I found any evidence that the Queen had health problems, beyond a few stories in unreliable American supermarket magazines, and I’m now certain that this is untrue but in reality that point is moot. At 89 years old, it is an extremely big ask for the general public to expect Her Majesty to continue to undertake her constitutional duties far into the future.
We are accustomed to believe that the monarchy is only symbolic but that is not the case. It is only when situations like this arise that it becomes clear that the Head of State is an extremely important cog in the UKs constitutional machine, without which the machine simply stops working. The fact is that the Head of State signs every piece of legislation into law and if, for whatever reason, the Head of State is unable to fulfil those duties with due consideration, potentially, theoretically, any legislation that might be signed could be legally challenged and that would be an extremely serious situation for the country to arrive at.
Yesterday I think we saw a further public escalation of this constitutional crisis as, the The Times, The Telegraph, and The Daily Mail all published stories which, to varying degrees and justified by a soon to be published ‘official’ biography of Prince Charles, began to lay before the public the concerns that have been bubbling behind the scenes but I fear that we are so used to categorising ‘Royal Stories’ as trivial that many might not have understood the seriousness of the situation. Plainly, this escalation indicates that no “deal” has been reached as yet.
Not only did we learn more of the concerns that many have, that Prince Charles if he became Prince Regent or King would continue to interfere in politics, not only did we learn of his apparent obstinacy and unwillingness to accept that the role of the Head of State in a modern constitutional democracy must be above politics, we also learned something about the future revelations which could be interpreted as further escalations in this crisis.
A decision by the Supreme Court is due on whether what has been termed ‘the black spider memos’ will be made public. These memos are 27 letters exchanged between Prince Charles and ministers in seven Whitehall departments during Tony Blair’s second Government between September 2004 and April 2005. Dominic Grieve, Attorney General had argued that they should not be made public, observing that the documents could show Charles to be “disagreeing with Government policy” and thus be “seriously damaging” to the political neutrality expected of the monarch.
If these documents are released and they demonstrate a political interference beyond Prince Charles’s known interests in environmental issues, the plight of hill farmers and architecture and instead demonstrate interference in matters which touch on issues that are the preserve of a democratically elected government, then, as Dominic Grieve pointed out it could be extremely damaging to Prince Charles.
Soon after this Supreme Court decision a BBC documentary is due to be broadcast regarding Diana. It is said that this documentary if broadcast would be extremely damaging to Prince Charles’s prospects of succeeding his mother to the throne.
Both of these two events, if they occur, could be regarded as further escalations in this ongoing constitutional crisis if a “deal” isn’t struck soon.
But here is the problem; how can any “deal” be struck? How can anyone be certain that if Prince Charles becomes Regent or King that he will keep to his side of any “deal”?
I am not wealthy or powerful, I am not a politician, or a civil servant, and I’m not a royal courtier or a newspaper editor. I am just an ordinary person and I can see many things that are wrong with our country, a broken political system, increasing inequality, and political priorities that only look after the interests of those with power. But the People of this country have the rights and power necessary to address these and other issues if they have the courage to do so. What the People need is not a King or Regent that interferes in government policy, what the People need is stability and an impartial Head of State who shows no favour.
We’ll have to wait and see how all this plays out but I hope some accommodation can be found. If not Charles really could turn out to be an extremely unlucky name for a King.