Prince Charles' secret letters to government officials are set to be released to the public after a long court battle. The 27 contested letters date from 2004 and 2005 and have been called the "black spider" memos because of Charles' handwriting style—the BBC notes a "use of underlining and exclamation marks." The memos to be published today have long been sought via a Freedom of Information Act request by Guardian journalist Rob Evans. Britain's Supreme Court in March supported a lower court ruling that the letters be published.
The government has sought for years to keep the letters out of the public domain for fear that publishing them might damage public perceptions of Charles' neutrality. As heir to the throne, Charles is expected to stay out of political matters. He has in the past expressed views about architecture, genetically modified food, and climate change. A former minister who saw the letters tells the BBC that they "were seen as interesting but were not taken very seriously." But publishing the letters, however, means "no member of the Royal Family will ever dare to write a letter to the government again for fear their private views will be front page news." (Charles made no secret of his royal baby bias, however.)