Noticias de Arquitectura

Lord Rogers’s attack on Prince Charles dismissed by constitutional expert
junio 20, 2009, 6:03 pm
Filed under: Arquitectura Inglesa, Rogers

Sir Richard Rogers and The Prince of Wales

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Lord Rogers, left, said that the Prince had set a ‘dangerous precedent’

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Valentine Low

The explosive if entertaining dispute between the Prince of Wales and the architect Lord Rogers of Riverside moved in the Prince’s favour last night after one of the country’s leading constitutional experts roundly dismissed Lord Rogers’s demands for a review of Prince Charles’s political influence.

Lord Rogers had said that the Prince had set a “dangerous precedent” by using his contacts with the Qatari Royal Family to ensure that his modernist design for the Chelsea Barracks site in London was dropped.

The architect, who has clashed with the Prince before, called for a panel of constitutional experts to examine his powers and his right to make interventions in subjects close to his heart such as architecture, medicine, farming and the environment.

“I think that anyone who uses his power due to birth, like this, breaks a constitutional understanding,” he said.

“It’s not a law, it’s a constitutional understanding and a trust we have within our society about the role of people who have received power in that manner.”

Vernon Bogdanor, Professor of Politics and Government at the University of Oxford, and one of the experts who might be approached for such a panel, said Lord Rogers was mistaken. “The Prince can make what contribution he wishes to public debate, as long as he is not partisan. It would only be unconstitutional if he was taking part in a party political debate, or was doing something that would undermine the position of the Queen, which he would never do. The fact that one does not agree with what he says does not make it unconstitutional.”

However, once Prince Charles became King the position would change completely, Professor Bogdanor said. All of his public statements would have to be made on the advice of ministers, who would be able to stop him from saying something if they saw fit.

Lord Rogers’s attack on the Prince came after the Qatari owners of the 12.8-acre site opposite the historic Royal Hospital announced on Friday that they had withdrawn their planning application, less than a week before it was due to be considered by Westminster council. While seeking a new plan, the developers will consult various interested groups, including Charles’s charity The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment.

The decision followed a direct intervention by the Prince, who wrote to the chairman of Qatari Diar, the real estate investment company owned by the Qatari Royal Family, which is behind the scheme, urging him to consider alternatives to the modern design.

Lord Rogers told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “I think there’s a dangerous precedent that the Prince has entered into, which is very much about how he sees style.

“And the Prince is not willing to debate. If the Prince does not debate, there must be a question over why he can participate in political situations.”

Lord Rogers is not alone in his criticism of the Prince. Nick Raynsford, the former planning minister, accused him of acting “in an almost feudal way in discussions with members of royal families overseas about outcomes that will affect the people of this country and should be determined by the normal democratic process”.

There are also constitutional experts who take a less robust view of the Prince’s right to speak out than Professor Bogdanor. Robert Blackburn, Professor of Constitutional Law at King’s College London and author of King and Country: Monarchy and the Future King Charles III, said: “Before one becomes a constitutional King, one must be a constitutional Prince of Wales — meaning a prince must maintain strict political neutrality and avoid criticism from elected politicians holding public office . . . Once a proactive, interventionist mentality is adopted, he may come to think he can intervene on difficult matters of state where he will hold direct constitutional powers.”

The Prince’s office has not commented on Lord Rogers’s comments.

Not everything has gone the Princes’s way. He recommended to the Qataris a classical design by his favoured architect, Quinlan Terry, but sources close to the developers said it was unlikely to be adopted.

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