Home News Royal row: How EU laws sparked tension between Charles and William

Royal row: How EU laws sparked tension between Charles and William

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The Prince of Wales and Camilla have been joining Prince William and Kate in keeping up with their royal duties during lockdown. Most recently, the princes appeared together via video call to mark International Nurses Day this month. The father and son may be presenting a united front as the most senior royals below the Queen, however in the past there have been moments of friction between the pair. 

Back in 2005, the Prince of Wales and his son faced tensions as William sought to protect the privacy of his then-girlfriend Kate Middleton.

Veteran royal editor Robert Jobson, in his 2006 book “William’s Princess”, explains the thorny issue between father and son. 

As Kate became ever-increasingly photographed as the prince’s partner, William asked his team to look into privacy rulings in the European Court of Human Rights, to see if any could be applicable to his and Kate’s situation.

However, Mr Jobson writes: “William’s concerns may have been understandable, but they also proved a source of slight tension between him and his father.

“Prince Charles sympathised with Kate’s lot but he felt recourse to the European Court of Human Rights was ill-advised and could open up a whole new can of worms for the Royal Family which, after all, depends on positive publicity for its very existence as a privileged, expensive and unelected institution.

“Besides, Prince Charles has never been a great fan of laws that he views as all too often abused by the undeserving at the cost of the greater good, and to the detriment of his country’s sovereign laws.”

He adds: “William knew that his father was uncomfortable with his proactive approach to the press and it was a source of some friction between them.”

However, that same year, Charles relied on the European Convention on Human Rights to assert the legality of his upcoming second marriage, to Camilla Parker Bowles. 

READ MORE: How Charles and Camilla’s wedding was dubbed ‘right royal shambles’

As both partners had been divorced, Charles and Camilla planned for a civil marriage ceremony. 

Professor Robert Blackburn, commenting on the “astonishing” legal situation in his 2006 book “King and Country: The Monarchy and Future Charles III”, wrote: “The proposal put forward in spring 2005 directly contradicted the official legal advice that members of the Royal Family could not contract a legal marriage through a civil registry service, which had been given by previous Lord Chancellors to previous Prime Ministers and monarchs.”

However, the then-Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, issued an emergency statement in February that the marriage would be legal under human rights law.

The decision was made by consulting with the European Convention on Human Rights, which establishes that the Prince of Wales has the right to marry, like anyone else in the UK, without restrictions imposed by the Government.

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Writing in The Independent in 2005, Chief Political Correspondent Marie Woolf  commented: “The situation is  ironic as Prince Charles railed against the Act in letters to Lord Irvine of Lairg, Lord Falconer’s predecessor as Lord Chancellor. 

“As part of a letter-writing campaign to the Government, Prince Charles ‘bombarded’ ministers with his thoughts. 

“He suggested the Act ‘betrays a fundamental distortion of social and legal thinking’.”

The Prince wrote, in a letter to Lord Falconer, in February 2002: “The Human Rights Act is only about the rights of individuals. 

“This betrays a fundamental distortion in social and legal thinking.”

In June 2001, he expressed his worry that the Act: “Will only encourage people to take up causes which will make the pursuit of a sane, civilised and ordered existence ever more difficult.

“I, and countless others, dread the very real and growing prospect of an American-style personal injury culture becoming ever more prevalent in this country.”

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