Secret royal veto powers kick up a storm in UK

LONDON (TIP): The British government will go to court against confidential letters written by Prince Charles to government ministers being made public, reflecting his intervention on legislative and other matters. The British royal family is supposed to play a completely apolitical role.

Last week, a freedom of information tribunal instructed Whitehall to do so. An estimated seven ministries of the government will have to hand over correspondence undertaken during 2004-05.

In August, information commissioner John Kirkhope ordered release of secret documents which establish that a little known “royal veto” exists when it comes to formulating bills in Britain. This would lay threadbare details of the cabinet office’s guidance to civil servants to seek approval of the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, and her son Charles, when drafting certain legislation.

The commissioner asserted it was “in public interest” for full facts to be exposed. According to UK’s Guardian newspaper, Charles’s consent was sought on at least 12 draft bills in the last two parliamentary sessions. It seems his powers emanate from his ownership of the £700 million Duchy of Cornwall estate, which possesses prime properties in various parts of Britain, including palatial parts of London. Charles has been consulted on matters pertaining to coroners, energy, planning, economic development and construction, marine and coastal access and housing and regeneration. The existence of veto surprised many Britons and even aroused criticism from a section.

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