As a preamble, a trailer if you will, let me clarify a couple of things; yes, I am a monarchist, if only because they, really, do no harm and, frankly, the alternative is too awful to contemplate. However, this article makes me cross, partly because Rowat is such a smug twat and partly because, whatever his faults, I believe Charles to be a basically decent man.
So, having dealt with that, let's get on with the main feature: putting the boot into Alison.
MOVE over Mandela. Take a number Solzhenitsyn. Get back Aung San Suu Kyi. Pray silence and be humble for Citizen Windsor, "Wolfie" to his friends, the leader of the Highgrove Popular Front and Britain's premier dissident. Yes, really. Just when you thought Kissinger winning the Nobel Peace Prize had killed satire stone dead, up pops Prince Charles to give it the kiss of life.
Ah, we've found Alison's hook: calling Charles "Wolfie". Really, already we can see that the woman's wit knows no bounds.
Not that the Che Guevara of organic farming meant to do it.
I think that comparing the heir to the throne, whose greatest folly was to carry on an affair with another man's wife (hardly a phenomenon unknown amongst journalists), with a child-killing, Communist mass-murderer is, frankly, more than a little rude. Personally I'd consider it actionable, but then maybe I'm being a little sensitive.
However, it is a useful little sentence that, since it allows us to gauge the tone in which the rest of Ms. Rowat's article will continue.
He never does. The heir to the throne reportedly thought long and hard before going to the High Court in London to stop the Mail on Sunday publishing further extracts from his journals.
I suppose that it is only me who thinks that the idea that someone should have to go to court in order to stop a newspaper publishing their private writings is, frankly, a little unpleasant? Ah, well, I suppose that one could plead public interest.
But, having been embarrassed by the initial airing of his thoughts on the Hong Kong hand-over ceremony, in which he called Chinese officials "appalling old waxworks", it was imperative that Wolfie Windsor try to plug the leak.
Only, how was publishing the private thoughts of the heir to the throne—in which he denigrates the leaders of a country with whom we wish to trade and thus enrich our public, i.e. the people—actually in the public interest? Surely, in terms of frosty relations, it has, in fact, damaged the public interest?
Little did he know that while he stood on one side of the dyke with his finger in the hole, his former aide was on the other with several sticks of dynamite.
With his claim that Charles sees himself as a "dissident" working against the prevailing political consensus, Mark Bolland, once the prince's spin doctor, has become his newest nightmare. Bolland's witness statement has not, for now, had quite the same impact as Diana's Panorama interview or Andrew Morton's book. In time, however, the gushing aide could do more harm to the prince's chances of succeeding the throne than the ex-wife ever did.
Which just goes to show that you cannot trust a spin doctor. What happened to pride in one's discretion; why is it that we must be constantly barraged by the "confessions" of mediocrities looking for their few minutes of tainted fame and their bundles of shit-stained money? Let me tell you, I would choose Neil Harding as an associate over scum like Bolland, and those are strong words indeed.
There is always a temptation with Charles to give him the benefit of the doubt. He seems a decent enough cove, doing good works through the Prince's Trust and all that. Many of his opinions would probably find favour with a lot of people. He thinks the Iraq war has been bad for relations with the Muslim community. Check. He is worried about climate change. Check. He is against genetically modified foods. Check. He likes a nice bit of classical architecture. Check. His other views, on hunting and the Human Rights Act, are more or less savoury depending on your politics. With Wolfie Windsor, you pays your money through the tax breaks on his £505m Duchy of Cornwall estate, and you takes your pick of his opinions.
Well, yes, Alison; but how, exactly, is paying for the tax breaks on the Duchy of Cornwall in any way different to the tax breaks and expenses that MPs and Ministers get on their grace and favour appartments, travel, staff expenses and Council Tax (yes, John Prescott, I'm looking at you)? Oh yes, there is a massive difference, isn't there? With Charles "you takes your pick of his opinions", whereas with our "elected" representitives one has their opinions forced upon one.
So, on the one hand, we have Charles Windsor, who runs a business (the Duchy) profitably and thus benefits his tenants, gets no more tax breaks than, say, Richard Branson or Rupert Murdoch, and who donates much of his income to giving impoverished people a chance to indulge in activities that they would never be able to otherwise. This man thinks that some things are wrong in the country, and writes to MPs to complain about such things.
And on the other? Well, we have many thousands of MPs, MSPs, Welsh Assembly members, local councillors and assorted hangers on, every single one of whom is financially entirely parasitic on those of us who work and, indeed, whose main job seems to be to extract money from us. These people, in turn, force their opinions on the rest of us through laws, bans and fines.
I am aware that I have thrown up something of a straw man there but bear with me. It has relevance.
In expressing his views, Charles is only doing what thousands of his fellow countrymen and women do every day. We live in the have-your-say age in which anyone with an opinion is encouraged to phone Five Live, write to their MP, start a campaign.
If only they did, Alison, if only they did. When did you last write to your MP? Have you ever, in fact, disagreed with your MP, or felt moved to write a disgusted letter to him (or her)?
Facts remain sacred (for the moment) but comment is free and we are all entitled to throw in our tuppence worth. It's freedom of speech, innit? It's our right.
Facts remain pretty fucking sacred in the MSM as well, you smug cow; every day, bloggers all over the world point out the errors, obfuscation and downright lies published in the dead tree media, and yet the waste of space that is the fourth estate sails blithely on, ignoring the repeated, indignant cries of those who know the truth and who object to the peddling of inflammatory lies to the general populace.
And we might still have the right to free speech if the MSM had campaigned a little harder when Toni was bringing in his illiberal measures to curb this right. In fact, if more people had written to their MPs, Alison, then we might, indeed, still have the right to free speech. You smug bitch.
Wolfie Windsor, as far as we know, did not phone Five Live. He put his thoughts down in letters and in journals and sent them to friends, politicians, media people, journalists, actors and acquaintances.
Is it any different to haranguing people in the pub? Oh, I know that letters are out of fashion these days, but the Prince is of a generation who wrote letters rather than thumbing txt mssgs to their mates, or published their thoughts on LiveJournal.
It has been known for years that Charles was a serial memo writer. When his partiality towards green ink first surfaced in 2002, Tony Blair gritted his teeth and called the notes "helpful and informative".
Toni lied through his teeth; so what's new? The fact that we would all be a lot better off if he had listened to some of the advice is, naturally, not to be borne.
What other recipients think of them is less clear.
Perhaps they regard his missives like those ghastly round-robin Christmas letters. Some people bore you to death by banging on about little Bobby's swimming badges or Aunty May's fibroids, Wolfie likes to discuss the Dalai Lama. Where's the harm in that?
And some people, of course, like to write massively smug, ill-informed horse-shit in local broadsheets, whoring their opinions for cash. Don't they, Alison?
Where does one start? The stupidity of it is as good a place as any. According to the prince's legal team, the journals, sent out to between 75 and 100 people, are private and confidential. In the 30 years he has been writing them, the court was told, it has never been Charles's intention or wish to publish them. Even by the standards of the royal household this is astonishing naivety. While the prince was not selling the journals and therefore cannot be said in the strict sense of the word to have been "publishing" them, he was circulating the contents.
Perhaps he sent them to friends that he trusted, those who would treat them as the private missives that they so patently are. Perhaps the people that he sent them to are the kind of people that I cited earlier: you now, the kind who still understand the words "honour", "dignity" and "discression". Not words that will be in any way familiar to any journalist, let alone a parochial, pusillanimous bitch writing op. ed. pieces in a Scottish newspaper.
In doing so, he was taking the risk that those contents would one day be disclosed. What is amazing is how long it took for that to happen. The prince must be blessed with supremely loyal friends and, with a few obvious exceptions, fiercely protective staff.
See above, Alison. Let me repeat those words: "honour", "dignity", "discression". Oh, and you are right; we can, indeed, add "loyalty" to that list.
The sovereign, as Bagehot put it, has three rights: the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn. In other words, the monarch is supposed to play a passive role, in private, and defer to the will of the people's elected representatives.
As, indeed, in public, Charles does. One could treat his prognostications against GM crops, etc. as warnings. He has, after all, no power to make, remake, edit or otherwise interfere with government policy (would that he did. We might have nicer-looking buildings for starters).
The system works because it suits all sides, not least the monarchy itself. Governments come and go. By not rocking the boat with any particular political party, the monarchy is allowed to sail on regardless of which lot are in power.
In turn, the UK benefits by having a consistent Head of State (and point of contact which is, as anyone in marketing or management could tell you, a very good thing).
Charles is not yet king, but he has already made public his views on a wide range of controversial matters. In doing so he has challenged government policy and, arguably, frustrated its implementation.
Do we really think that Blair, with his still large majority, has ever changed policy because of Charles's missives? I doubt it myself. After all, he didn't change it when hundreds of thousands of those who elected him and his fascist colleagues to power, when hundreds of thousands of those whom he and his cronies are supposed to be representatives of, marched against his intended policy; why should one middle-aged man with less actual power than your average voter seed doubt in his mind?
Will he be satisfied with the right to be consulted, to encourage, to warn, or will he exercise a right to reply?
It is difficult to exercise the "right to encourage" or the "right to warn" if one is not allowed to speak back to one's interloquator.
Charles, if he is half the operator he thinks he is, needs to wise up to some political and personal truths. His views may be average but he is not the average citizen. What he says ought not to matter but, as the heir to the throne, it does. If he wants his views to remain private he should not circulate them in samizdat form to dozens of people. Above all, he cannot use the media for his own ends one day and the next day try to gag it.
Ah, yes. Well, he didn't did he? I am sure that his official pronouncements are sent out as official press releases as is customary; his private correspondance should remain private. Whether he sends it to one person or ten thousand, that does not alter the fact that it is still private. I am sure that Ms. Rowat, who uses the media to her own ends (accpeting money in return for airing her fatuous opinions), won't mind the Herald publishing any letters that she has sent to her friends or, indeed, her private diaries.
I look forward to her column being filled with her personal revelations about her employers, her problems with period pains, and her personal opinions on Sam from next door. The hypocritical old sow.
If HRH really wants to play at politics he should throw himself on the mercy of parliament, beg them to strip him of his position and stand for election. I hear there are some vacancies coming up at Holyrood next year.
Oh, come, come, Alison; if he were going to stand for Parliament then I am sure that he would stand for the Mother of all Parliaments rather than some jumped-up County Council bun-fight arena.
But, then, that would not be Charles's way. Far better to have a discreet moan to your chums in high places or confess all to a diary like some superannuated Adrian Mole, than stand up and be counted like a commoner.
Have any of you spotted Alison's breath-taking hypocrisy yet? That's right: she is playing politics as much as Charles is. She is, in fact, informing opinion through her useless column. Admittedly she might have less impact, mainly because I shouldn't imagine that many people read her tripe, but nevertheless her offence is precisely the same as that of the Prince.
So, when will we see Alison Rowat standing for Parliament? I believe, Alison, that there are some vacancies coming up at Holyrood next year.
Oh, and if you don't get elected, will you do us all a favour and shut your fucking mouth...?