“Secret documents detailing the use by Prince Charles of his little-known power of veto over government bills must be released, the information commissioner has ruled.
A limited number of papers that show how the prince was consulted, in his capacity as the Duke of Cornwall, over the marine and coastal access bill, should be released within a month. Many others will remain confidential under the ruling, which was described by freedom of information campaigners as only a partial victory.
The case centres on the Whitehall convention that means the Prince of Wales must be consulted on any government bill that might affect his own interests, in particular, the Duchy of Cornwall, a private £700m property empire that last year provided him with an £18m income.
The arrangement has been described as akin to a royal “nuclear deterrent” over government legislation. There is no evidence that the prince has ever exercised the veto. Mystery around its application, however, has fuelled concern that it may underpin his lobbying ministers directly and through his charities on pet concerns such as traditional architecture and the environment.
In October, the Guardian revealed that since 2005 the government has sought Charles’ consent on at least a dozen government bills, ranging from road safety to gambling and the Olympic games.”