I write to ministers just like my dad, says Wills
PRINCE William has admitted he is following in the footsteps of his father Prince Charles by writing to Government ministers.
But the future king insists that he doesn’t ‘lobby’ them and instead writes ‘purely to point them towards people I think they should see’.
In a wide-ranging interview with Tony Blair’s notorious former spin doctor, Alastair Campbell, for GQ magazine, extracts of which have been released, William admits he is interested in politics and can feel ‘frustrated’ by the constraints his position places on him.
Prince Charles has been repeatedly accused of ‘meddling’ in affairs of state with his so-called ‘black spider memos’, so-called because of his scrawled handwriting. Campbell said to Prince William: ‘I do remember when your father’s letters used to come into no 10. Will you go down that route, with his very frank letters to ministers?’
Prince William replied, laughing: ‘Could you read them?’ But he admitted that he had started to do the same. He said: ‘I have written to ministers but purely to point them towards people I think they should see.
‘So a charity might ask me if I can help with someone and I can help get them access to the people in Government ... There are issues I am interested in and I am happy to connect people to ministers.’
When Campbell asked if he was ‘perhaps not as robust as your father’, William replied: ‘ My father has always come at this from a depth of knowledge and a desire to help. He only gets involved in anything when he has those two things: knowledge matched to a desire to help. He genuinely cares.
‘We can argue till the cows come home about whether what he says is right or wrong, but he lives this stuff every day, goes into minute detail, wants to help inform opinion and provide knowledge. I would love to know what the public really think, whether they feel shocked or pleased he gets involved.
‘He has done this for a long, long time, and I think he has used his role really well to raise a lot of questions that people need to ask.’
A ten- year battle using Freedom of Information laws to uncover the extent of Charles’s ‘lobbying’ of ministers revealed that he wrote to Mr Blair to protest about illequipped British troops being employed to Iraq and to other ministers on issues as diverse as farming, the environment, homeopathic remedies – and even the plight of the Patagonian Toothfish.
His critics say that his repeated interventions in public policy have made him the country’s ‘most influential lobbyist’ and unfit to become king, but his supporters insist he is a good man who cares about the country and its citizens and fully understands that when he accedes to the throne, his interventions will have to stop.
Prince William also speaks in the interview for the first time about the moment he walked behind his mother’s coffin at her funeral, describing it as the ‘hardest thing I have ever done’.
He claims that he and his brother were unaware of the outpouring of grief across the nation, saying: ‘All I cared about was that I had lost my mum.’ In the full interview, available from today, William says the trauma of losing his mother is still something that haunts him today, although he has never sought professional help, like his brother Prince Harry, and instead prefers to talk to family and friends.
He says: ‘If I had mental health issues I would happily talk about them.
‘I think the closest I got was the trauma I suffered when I lost my mother, the scale of the grief, and I still haven’t necessarily dealt with that grief as well as I could have done over the years. I find talking about my mother and keeping her memory alive very important. I find it therapeutic to talk about her, and to talk about how I feel.
‘I have never felt depressed in the way I understand it, but I have felt incredibly sad. And I feel the trauma of that day has lived with me for 20 years, like a weight.
‘But I would not say that has led me to depression. I still want to get up in the morning, I want to do stuff, I still feel I can function. Believe me, at times it has felt like it would break me, but I have felt I have learned to manage it and I’ve talked about it.’
Letters: Charles and William