SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please consider donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!

Prince Charles and Camilla

Second round of Prince Charles’s ‘black spider memos’ released

The government published a second batch of letters written by Prince Charles to government ministers, following the Supreme Court ruling allowing the publication. The government released a second batch of letters written by Prince Charles to government ministers, following the Supreme Court decision allowing the publication of the “Black Spider Memos.”

In March, Supreme Court judges allowed the publication of the letters. Prime Minister David Cameron said at the time that the ruling was “deeply disappointing.”

The 17 letters, published at 2.30pm on Thursday, include the Charles’s communication between 2006 and 2009 with ministers in four departments.

The topics include architecture, rural affairs and health.

A statement from Clarence House was released following the memos publication:

“The correspondence published by the Government today, Thursday 4th June, shows the range of The Prince of Wales’ concerns and interests for this country and the wider world. The seventeen letters (six from His Royal Highness, eight from Ministers and three from Private Secretaries) were written between September 2007 and June 2009. This is the final release of material related to the Supreme Court judgment. The Guardian put in two separate requests for letters, before the FOI act was amended. The conclusion of the first request resulted in the publication of letters last month. The other request was stayed whilst the first case went through the Supreme Court. In light of that judgment, the Government has now decided to publish the second batch of letters.
The letters published by the Government show The Prince of Wales expressing concern about issues that he has raised in public like affordable rural housing, the quality of hospital food, the preservation and regeneration of historic buildings, an integrated approach to healthcare, climate change, and others. In all these cases, The Prince of Wales is raising issues of public concern, and trying to find practical ways to address the issues.”

An example of the letters released is a 2007 correspondence with the Minister of Housing and Planning, Yvette Cooper, regarding Eco-Towns and affordable rural housing.

The point of the letter was Charles attempted, with his charities, to do what he could to assist. This correspondence highlights the way in which the work of The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment and Business in the Community supplemented the Department for Communities and Local Government’s two publications in regards to housing issues.

The Prince’s Rural Action Programme (run by Business in the Community), created the Affordable Rural Housing Initiative (ARHI) which ran from 2003 to 2008. This scheme attempted to increase awareness of the impact of the lack of affordable rural housing on the economic and social well-being of rural communities.

Despite Charles’s numerous attempts to assist along with The Prince’s Foundation neither became involved in any of the Eco-Towns after the concept was tabled following Yvette Cooper getting on a new Ministerial assignment.

Clarence House commented on the scope of the letter stating: “The Prince of Wales is a passionate believer the role of the built environment in sustainability and community building, both in urban and in rural settings. It is because of this His Royal Highness founded The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment (now known as The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community) over twenty years ago.

The statement continued noting that: “His Royal Highness also has had a longstanding interest in the preservation and restoration of buildings for the benefit of the local community. It is because of this that he set up The Prince’s Regeneration Trust (formerly known as The Phoenix Trust) over fifteen years ago, to help find new uses for buildings that have become derelict or are at risk of doing so. In addition to community buildings, His Royal Highness is also aware that rural people are the lifeblood of the countryside, but that rising house prices and rents have pushed many rural people away from the places they work. His Royal Highness has had a longstanding desire to find innovative ways of encouraging businesses and stakeholders to come up with solutions to the rural affordable housing shortage.”

Other letters released on Thursday include Charles’s concern over climate change and the rainforests in a 2008 letter to the Secretary of State for International Development, Douglas Alexander. Charles also wrote to Secretaries of State Alan Johnson and Andy Burnham on complementary medicine and hospital food. Included in the published batch were also letter to Minister for Housing, Caroline Flint regarding housing and heritage regeneration projects and correspondence with Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Ben Bradshaw regarding the Arts and Heritage.

Once again, from viewing the letters and topics Charles is concerned over, it shows his compassion for the issues in which he cares about. There was nothing remotely meddlesome in this second round of correspondence, only a man who cares deeply about the matters his country and the world faces today.

Photo Credit: The Commonwealth via Flickr