Following a three-year Freedom of Information (FoI) battle, anti-monarchy campaigners Republic exposed the contents of a "Precedent Book", which revealed that along with the Queen and cabinet ministers, Prince Charles has been receiving all cabinet documents, including secret proposals for new legislation, for many years.
"The documents of the cabinet and ministerial committees are issued primarily to the sovereign, the Prince of Wales, and ministers… The need for secrecy calls for special care in circulation and handling," the Precedent Book states.
— ChampagneGirl (@Co_Passenger) December 16, 2015
I don't get the fuss about Prince Charles seeing Cabinet Papers. He's the future Head of State. I would worry more if he didn't see them.— Richard Coles (@RevRichardColes) December 16, 2015
It also indicated that Charles has access to documents that even junior government ministers cannot see.
"The standard circulation for cabinet memoranda includes the Queen, the Prince of Wales, all members of the cabinet, any other ministers in charge of departments, the attorney general and the chief whip… Ministers of state and junior minister do not normally receive memoranda."
'Extraordinary and Completely Unacceptable'
The revelations have led to calls for Charles, who is not the head of state or an elected member of parliament, to be stripped of his privileged access to the documents.
"The disclosure of cabinet papers to Prince Charles is quite extraordinary and completely unacceptable," Republic CEO Graham Smith said, arguing that access to the information could allow Charles to pursue "his own agenda" on political and financial matters.
"Charles is essentially a minister not attending cabinet. He gets the paperwork and has private meetings with ministers about policy. Charles has no legitimate need to see Cabinet papers at all. His political and private interests and the high degree of secrecy surrounding his lobbying mean there is a real danger this information can be abused without any possibility of accountability."
Charles' access to the sensitive cabinet documents comes after the Prince was accused of "meddling" with politics following the release of his "black spider memos" which showed how he had privately lobbied UK government ministers over various policy areas and legislation.
Cameron Pressured to Strip Access
As a result, Republic have called for an investigation into Charles accessing the cabinet documents, and in a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, have insisted that his access to them needs to be scrapped.
"The fact that, in addition [to his right to secretly lobby ministers], Charles has privileged access to Cabinet papers is a further cause for concern as it means he is able to lobby ministers in secret at every stage of policy development process.
"It is plainly wrong that Charles can lobby on new policy proposals even before the public are aware of the existence of such proposals," the letter says.
"Cabinet papers will include market sensitive information that would enable a person in possession of the information to use it to further their own financial interests."