The Patagonian Toothfish has a friend in the future king of England—that's one lesson from the British government's release of previously secret letters written by Prince Charles to government officials. The 27 letters, written a decade ago and the subject of a lengthy legal battle that pitted Charles' right to privacy against the public's right to know, include 10 written by Charles personally to former Prime Minister Tony Blair and other top officials in his Labour Party government. The sometimes quirky prince, known for his commitment to organic farming and traditional architecture, freely expresses himself on matters like badger culling, fish protection, the readiness of the military, standards for alternative medicines, and the preservation of historic buildings.
The letter-writing is controversial because as Britain's future king, Charles is expected to remain neutral on political matters. Charles does not demand action in the letters—but that doesn't mean British ministers felt they could ignore his myriad concerns. "I particularly hope that the illegal fishing of the Patagonian Toothfish will be high on your list of priorities," he wrote in one missive to the British fisheries minister. In a 2004 letter to Blair, Charles—a military veteran—raises concerns about the British armed forces not getting enough resources for their "extremely challenging job" in Iraq. Charles' press office issued a statement yesterday defending the letters, saying he was "raising issues of public concern and trying to find practical ways to address the issues."