Prince Charles' Secret Veto Power

'Guardian' investigates the 'secretive constitutional loophole'
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 31, 2011 5:58 AM CDT
Britain's Prince Charles, left, President, Business in the Community, at the opening of a new Start-Up Shop in The Mall in Middlesbrough, England, Monday, Oct. 24, 2011.   (AP Photo/Scott Heppell, Pool)

(Newser) – Although many think of the British royal family more as figureheads than active participants in governance, government ministers have in fact had to get Prince Charles' permission to pass at least a dozen bills since 2005. The revelation stems from an investigation by the Guardian into what it calls a "secretive constitutional loophole": Charles is apparently granted the right to veto any bills that could affect his personal interests, particularly the $1.2 billion Duchy of Cornwall, which he controls. In the past six years, six departments have sought his consent on bills related to the London Olympics, gambling, shipwrecks, and road safety.

The Duke of Cornwall and the queen are the only two British royals who possess veto power over legislation related to their interests, notes the Guardian. A spokesman for Prince Charles refused to comment on whether the prince had ever withheld his consent or what sort of changes he had required to legislation. Parliamentarians are upset. "Anyone who enjoys exceptional influence or veto should exercise it with complete transparency," said a Liberal Democrat MP. "The duchy asserts that it is merely a private estate. Most people will be astonished to learn that it appears to have effective powers of veto over the government."

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