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Charles: the interfering royal with bags of cash and laws made just for him

Last month I wrote about the showy jubilee celebrations and how it wouldn’t be long before the show is over, leaving us with the reality of monarchy. That reality is, of course, an abuse. It’s an abuse of power, wealth and privilege. The family at the centre of the institution do not deserve power, wealth or privilege.

Charles, the heir to the throne, duly obliged by getting into the news for two different scandals since the jubilee weekend. The first involved him accepting £2.6m in cash during several meetings with a former prime minister of Qatar. Reports claim on one occasion the cash was handed over in a suitcase, another time in a holdall and on another in multiple Fortnum and Mason carrier bags (well, if you’re going to accept cash in carrier bags, make them posh carrier bags). Clarence House (the official residence of Charles) has put out a statement explaining that the cash was immediately passed on to one of his charities. This comes at a time when Charles has faced allegations of a cash-for-access approach in his organisation.

While there is no suggestion that any illegal activity has taken place, as anarchists we might ponder the relationship between unelected power, wealth and charity. Two rich men, both in high positions of status in their respective societies are involved in exceedingly high amounts of money changing hands for charity. They see themselves as philanthropic and doing what they can in the situation they find themselves in. From an anarchist perspective though, these men are a big part of the problem in the first place. Their wealth, power and status are one of the causes of inequality and therefore the ‘need’ for charity. Their kindness is false, if they really are not involved in anything dodgy.

The second instance of Charles bringing the monarchy down to earth with a bang is the latest news of his longstanding interference in British politics for his own financial advantage. Under the secretive principle of Queen’s Consent, the monarch and the heir are handed draft legislation which might impact the royal estate before it reaches parliament and are granted the power to request changes. The government must obtain the consent of the monarch prior to the Bill being debated by parliament. This is different from the well-understood Royal assent, which refers to the monarch signing a Bill to bring it into law. That process is a formality in which the monarchy cannot interfere. Queen’s consent allows for the monarch and the heir to undoubtedly interfere with legislation in their own interests.

Newly uncovered papers at the National Archive show how Charles lobbied the Major government in the 1990s regarding legislation on the right of some tenants to buy their homes. Charles lobbied government ministers to prevent tenants on his land belonging to the Duchy of Cornwall from being able to have that right. His lobbying secured an exemption from the law just for tenants in the village he was concerned about, leaving them financially worse off. Government ministers initially pushed back on the exemption but the royal won through and secured his demand.

The monarchy is an abuse. These news stories show how hierarchy and charity are mutually supportive and now we learn that behind the scenes the heir to the throne has been securing advantageous financial rules in legislation that serve only him and his family, and at the expense of his tenants. All landlords are bastards but some are right royal bastards.

The more we learn about Queen’s Consent, the worse it seems to get. We always see the papers decades late. We are always behind with the news. What has Charles been up to since the mid-1990s if he got away with this one? It’s time to flush the information out and send this family and the institution they head packing.

Jon Bigger

Image by Number 10, published under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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