Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Not so "neutral" after all

One of our great constitutional myths is that the monarchy is neutral - they are "above" politics, and don't get involved in issues of policy. They reign, but they do not rule.


Prince Charles has held private meetings with eight government ministers in the last 12 months, including Michael Gove, the education secretary, and Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury.

Palace records show he also met with ministers with responsibility for defence, culture and further education, as well as top civil servants involved in British defence interests in the Middle East and the UK economy.

Details of the meetings with senior political figures in the Westminster and Cardiff governments, including why they were held and what was discussed, have not been not made public, in line with a convention of secrecy around communication between both the Queen and the heir to the throne and government ministers.

Regardless of what you think of Charles' opinions, this is deeply constitutionally improper. If the monarchy is "neutral", it needs to act like it - and that means not abusing their position to lobby for their pet policies. Alternatively, if they want to be political actors, then they should abdicate and stand for election like any other politician. The current hypocritical position of pretending to be neutral while playing politics under cover of secrecy is neither democratic, not sustainable.