by MONITOR

THE Prince of Wales undoubtedly means well but he has odd ideas on how he should go about his business. The latest is to put out a brochure explaining who is he and what he does. It will define the role of the heir to the throne - saying, essentially, that it is to support the monarch and to act as an ambassador for the country and do charitable work. The brochure will also look back at earlier Princes of Wales and analyse how they carried out their responsibilities; a second booklet will show how he spends his money and organises his office and staff. This initiative is presumably a response to recent criticism of his office and its methods, some of which arose from the Paul Burrell affair. But this is dangerous territory. Writing a job description of this sort will only lead people to ask awkward questions about how the Prince's latest environmental fad fits into his self-defined responsibilites. For instance, it is well-known that he shoots off letters to government ministers on all manner of subjects when he thinks he is representing a public viewpoint that they have overlooked. Will his job description cover this kind of off-the-cuff interference in the affairs of state and how will it be justified? One of the virtues of the absence of a written consitution is that it enables responses to changing circumstances to be fast and flexible. One abiding criticism of the royal family is of its inability to respond quickly to new challenges. Prince Charles should not make it more difficult than it already is.

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