1997 Onwards -
Below is the text of Mr Major’s article on HRH The Prince of Wales, published on 17th March 2003.
Over recent weeks, much printer’s ink has been spilled over Sir Michael Peat’s inquiry into alleged misconduct within St James’s Palace. The pursuit of HRH The Prince of Wales has been unrelenting. It is also unjust.
Some of the wilder comments even predicted revelations that would shake the Monarchy itself. Others pre-
The reality, as any dispassionate reader must acknowledge, is that -
Unlike many of his critics, I know the Prince of Wales. He is a man who cares, sometimes too much. He has a social conscience that can be uncomfortable in an heir to the Throne. His forthright views on architecture and the rural community lead him into controversy but there are as many who share his views as oppose them.
He does lobby Ministers -
There is a scene in the original film of “Goodbye, Mr Chips” in which Chips muses on the habit of exaggeration of one of his pupils: apparently the boy was apt to exaggerate a nought to a nine in his Latin marks. Similar exaggeration is often apparent in the lack of sympathy or understanding offered to Prince Charles with much of it magnified by the belief that an hereditary Monarchy is contrary to the spirit of the times in our egalitarian age.
Such a belief, though often peddled subliminally, does much to belittle the Monarchy. There is, for some, an agenda here: if Members of the Royal Family are undermined, then the Institution of the Monarchy itself begins to wither in public affection. I do not argue for the Royal Family to be above criticism, nor to be deferred to as a matter of course (having been raised in Brixton, I am myself a product of our egalitarian age) but I do ask for a sense of balance. I ask for any criticism to be just. For it not to be exaggerated. Nor, sometimes, invented. And for shortcomings to be weighed alongside virtues.
I am a Monarchist and I care for the Institution of Monarchy. I believe our country would be changed immeasurably for the worse if we were to become a Presidency. I see the intellectual case for such a change but reject it absolutely. Its advocacy is most often heard in the Westminster-
One day, Prince Charles will be our King and the embodiment of the Monarchy. Around the world, he will be the symbol of our nation. In due time, Prince William will succeed him. This is the hope and expectation of the vast majority of our nation. There are only a very few who wish to see the unique fabric of our country damaged and the legacy of Monarchy wrecked -
As Heir to the Throne, the role of any Prince of Wales is difficult. If he has views and expresses them publicly he is in danger of infringing his constitutional obligation to steer clear of controversy. Of course, he should not be seen to oppose Government policy -
Times are changing for the Monarchy: deference to it is out of fashion and so is tolerance of any human failings within it. But we, the public, can’t have it both ways. If we change our expectation of and attitude towards the Monarchy, then we must accept that they -
Let us suppose, for a moment, that the Prince of Wales were a Commoner. What would we see? A sensitive man, with no malice and much good intent. A man who takes an active interest in several hundred charities to benefit the young, the old, minority groups and the arts. A man who -
The Prince of Wales has honoured that obligation with compassion, tolerance of human failing and a wish to support those most in need. We, as a nation, should at the very least extend to him a similar courtesy.