Comment: Prince of Wales is right to write
Journalists who have witnessed first hand the Prince of Wales out in the community have always been struck by the skill with which he puts the public at their ease.
With a warm smile, an engaging sense of humour, and a real interest in what they have to say, he demonstrates in a matter of moments that he is not simply an extraordinary communicator but a hugely accomplished monarch-in-waiting.
It was evident again in Sussex last year. After visiting Battle in East Sussex he hopped across the county border to Steyning where primary school children were learning how food travelled from field to fork.
They were thrilled to meet him; and he listened carefully to everything they had to say.
But what is the benefit of a Prince who listens politely and promptly then ignores everything he is told?
A monarch may need to take special care to remove themselves from the political fray, but a royal heir needs to do more if they are to make their role truly meaningful to the people they will one day serve.
That is why I vigorously defend his right to write to Government ministers in a private capacity, passing on those comments of concern that might otherwise never penetrate the hated Westminster bubble.
To instantly forget what he learns on his travels would render his role both ineffectual and rude.
To speak up for those who might otherwise not have a voice keeps his Majesty relevant and real to all generations and the people he will one day represent as King.
It is deplorable that The Guardian newspaper has pursued the publication of these personal notes for so long. The government has been right to defend their confidentiality.
But what the letters - finally published yesterday - clearly prove is that the Prince of Wales has crossed no party political line. His comments are those of the people he has met. They span the range of party politics.
More than that, they do not seek to dictate but merely advise on the concerns that have relayed to him by the ordinary citizens of this country.
They are written both with passion and a good heart.
We do not have a Prince of Wales who goes through the motions of caring for his country. We have one who does so with dedication, diligence and the utmost humility.
Let other media outlets condemn him.
We will not.
I may not agree with every point that he has raised; but in the spirit of Voltaire I do defend his right to speak out in a still and gentle way on behalf of this great country of ours.
The integrity of our monarchy is one of the great assets of this nation: we trash and tear it apart at our peril.
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