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This Is What Prince Charles Said In His Secret Letters To The Government

The personal correspondence from the UK's future king to the Blair government has been released.

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The 27 letters, which date from September 2004 to March 2005, were released following a decade-long campaign by The Guardian. Multiple governments attempted to block the release of the letters, prompting a lengthy legal battle which cost the state around £400,000. They were informally known as the "black spider" memos, because of the prince's handwriting – even though these letters all turn out to have been typed.

Charles has long been known to take an active interest in many aspects of government, regularly writing letters to ministers. However, this is the first time they have been made public, and the law has since been altered to ensure future correspondence between the future king and government ministers is protected from Freedom of Information Act requests.

A spokesperson for Prince Charles complained about the decision to publish the correspondence: "The Prince of Wales believes, as have successive Governments, that he should have a right to communicate privately. The publication of private letters can only inhibit his ability to express the concerns and suggestions which have been put to him in the course of his travels and meetings."

This is what we learned from the letters that the government fought for a decade to hide:


The prince also wrote to Blair to call for less regulation of herbal medicine.


He claimed an EU directive on the regulation of herbal extracts was having "a deleterious effect on the complementary medicine sector".


The letters do show a certain self-awareness. Charles is concerned about the risks of the correspondence being obtained under the FOI Act.


"Dear Prime Minister, It was very good to see you again the other day and, us usual, I much enjoyed the opportunity to talk about a number of issues. You kindly suggested that it would be helpful if I put them in writing – despite the Freedom of Information Act!"


But perhaps most intriguingly, he was really concerned about what the government was doing to help the Patagonian toothfish.


One letter to the then environment minister reads: "I particularly hope that the illegal fishing of the Patagonian Toothfish will be high on your list of priorities because until that trade is stopped, there is little hope for the poor old albatross".

Over-fishing of the Antarctic-based Patagonian toothfish does indeed appear to pose a risk to albatrosses, according to Greenpeace.

And that is literally everything we know about Prince Charles' private correspondence, following a 10-year legal battle.

Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Jim Waterson at

Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Emily Ashton at

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