Cityvisitor blog

Disappointing Black Spider Memos

There was great excitement on the eve of the publication of the Black Spider Memos this week.

The letters, otherwise known as long missives from Prince Charles to Prime Minister Tony Blair and his government written in the late ‘90s, took ten years of battling in the courts by the Guardian newspaper to be released. So no wonder every editor in the UK was steeled for their publication.

But what a disappointment. Rather than letters filled with dictatorial orders about how to run the country, the letters made gentle suggestions about policy mainly concerned with farmers, wildlife and complementary medicine. Hardly stuff proving the corruption of the monarchy and the government of the time, as some seemed to be hoping.

The top headlines from the letters revolved around the endangered dog-tooth fish and badgers. The notes revealed little more to Charles than a man who likes animals and seems to have a large share of black ink at home. The name ‘Black Spider Memos’ was probably the most exciting thing about the letters, it certainly sounded a lot juicier than the contents turned out to be.

There is still the debate about whether royals should be allowed to give their personal opinion to those in parliamentary power, based on the fact that the head of state and those in line to the throne are not meant to have openly political opinions. But to be honest, Charles’ writings give away little in terms of his politics.

Perhaps though, to be on the safe side in the future, Charles should write such letters without putting his real name to them. Or, because the letters had the air of a slightly disgruntled newspaper reader writing to the letters page for the umpteenth time, perhaps he should sign off with ‘Concerned of Clarence House’ in order to dodge accusations of allowing his name to exert power over the PM.


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