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<-Back to WTN Archives Britain's answer to the Dalai Lama: how Prince Charles styles himself as a dissident (The Independent)
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World Tibet Network News

Published by the Canada Tibet Committee

Thursday, February 23, 2006

2. Britain's answer to the Dalai Lama: how Prince Charles styles himself as a dissident (The Independent)

By Robert Verkaik, Legal Affairs Correspondent, The Independent

Published: 22 February 2006

For more than 20 years the Prince of Wales has kept the public
entertained by regularly making known his opinions of modern
architecture, BBC royal correspondents and the alleged benefits of
talking to plants. Such views have been dismissed by many as the
eccentric musings of a privileged aristocrat.

But now it emerges Prince Charles takes himself rather more
seriously, regarding his interventions as the actions of a "dissident"
campaigner standing up for unpopular causes.

Documents released in the High Court in London yesterday shine a
revealing light into the psychology of the Prince who last year told
an American TV journalist that the British people would only
appreciate him after "I'm dead and gone".

Prince Charles, according to one of his former closest advisers, not
only identifies with the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the
oppressed people of Tibet, but also believes it is his constitutional
duty to tell government ministers what he thinks about the issues of
the day.

In a legal case which appears to have spectacularly backfired, the
Prince has gone to court to try to stop further publication of his
private diaries after some of the contents were leaked to a national

But yesterday lawyers for The Mail on Sunday, which had originally
printed extracts from the diaries, decided to release a startling
account of life inside the Prince's private office.

The written account by Mark Bolland, Charles's former deputy private
secretary, details the extraordinary lengths that his former boss
would go to have his opinions heard in the right places. Mr Bolland
claims that the Prince saw himself as playing the role of a "dissident
working against the prevailing political consensus".

To achieve these ends he frequently wrote to government ministers. And
just so his staff are left in no doubt what his position was on any
given issue of the day his letters and speeches were routinely
circulated around his office for all to read. "I was always surprised
that these letters were not treated as more private or sensitive and,
indeed, was always surprised that they were written at all," said Mr
Bolland in his statement.

But claims by the former royal aide go even further by suggesting that
Prince Charles is engaged in overtly political activity that threatens
his constitutional role. On one occasion, says Mr Bolland, Prince
Charles did not attend a return state banquet thrown by Chinese
President Jiang Zemin "as a deliberate snub to the Chinese because he
did not approve of the Chinese regime".

The Prince was aware of the political and economic importance of the
state visit but "wanted to make a public stand against the Chinese".
Prince Charles's skilful use of the media meant that the "snub" was
well publicised in national newspapers.

Mr Bolland's statement continues: "Despite our best efforts, he did
not always avoid politically contentious issues, if he felt strongly
about particular issues or government policies. In fact, he would
readily embrace the political aspects of any contentious issue he was
interested in and this is an aspect of his role which the Prince saw
as particularly important."

The Bolland document was only made public after Prince Charles's
barrister, Hugh Tomlinson QC, told Mr Justice Blackburne that his
client had decided not to pursue orders banning publication of Mr
Bolland's witness statement.

Lawyers for the Prince hope to persuade the judge that the leaking of
his private journals is a breach of confidence. But Mark Warby QC,
representing The Mail on Sunday, told the court that the
confidentiality laws which protect private lives simply do not apply
to this case.

The hearing continues.

The real thing


Spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism. His struggle for a free Tibet
has always been based on non-violent solutions.


Founded opposition party to the country's military junta in 1988. Has
spent nine of the last 15 years under house arrest.


Released from Robben Island in 1994 after 27 years, his imprisonment
drew attention to the struggle against apartheid.

Articles in this Issue:
  1. Tibetan Youths Detained Over Anti-Fur Campaign (RFA)
  2. Britain's answer to the Dalai Lama: how Prince Charles styles himself as a dissident (The Independent)
  3. Tibetans storm Chinese Embassy in Italy
  4. EU welcomes the arrival of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's envoy in China

Other articles this month - WTN Index - Mail the WTN-Editors

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