Rural concerns dominate Prince Charles letters to Government

Prince Charles.
Prince Charles.
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THE private worries, advice and lobbying of the Prince of Wales to senior Government ministers has been revealed for the first time as letters order to be published by the courts reveal a prince preoccupied with the defence of the UK and its rural lifestyle.

Letters between the Prince of Wales and the Tony Blair government have finally been released following a lengthy court battle in which both the prince and ministers sought to prevent the public learning the details of royal lobbying.

The 27 letters show Prince Charles adopting a gentle approach in his relationship with ministers, even at times apologising for having to raise issues which are close to his heart.

Only rarely does he stray into direct criticism, with the strongest words reserved for what he saw as a failure by Mr Blair’s Government to adequately support British troops in Iraq.

The Prince of Wales complained to the prime minister that British forces “being asked to do an extremely challenging job without the necessary resources”.

In one letter, dated September 8, 2004, Charles speaks of problems with deploying new Oxbow surveillance technology, which he describes as a “major advance”.

But he adds: “The aim of the Ministry of Defence and the Army Air Corps to deploy this equipment globally is, however, being frustrated by the poor performance of the existing Lynx aircraft in high temperatures.

“Despite this, the procurement of new aircraft to replace the Lynx (helicopter) is subject to further delays and uncertainty due to the significant pressure on the Defence Budget.

“I fear this is just one more example of where our Armed Forces are being asked to do an extremely challenging job (particularly in Iraq) without the necessary resources.”

Large parts of his correspondence with the then PM are taken up with rural issues, with the Prince warning for example that reducing EU cattle subsidies will mean that “large areas of the countryside dependent upon beef and sheep farming will change beyond all recognition” before going on to raise the case of hill farmers who “play a particularly crucial role in maintaining the beauty and communities of the uplands”.

In another letter to Mr Blair, the Prince of Wales described opponents of a badger cull as “intellectually dishonest” and advocated culling to tackle tuberculosis in cattle.

Clarence House issued a statement defending the prince’s correspondence with ministers,saying: “The publication of private letters can only inhibit his ability to express the concerns and suggestions which have been put to him in the course of his travels and meetings.”

The statement said Charles carries out more than 600 engagements a year which “gives him a unique perspective”.