The Monarchist League of New Zealand Inc.
20 November 2004
Doubtless a casual observer of recent publicity given to comments by the Prince of Wales would be liable to fall for
the insinuation that his views are old-fashioned and therefore wrong. This insinuation (which presupposes that
old-fashioned was a term of abuse or ridicule) appears to add to the media-engendered perception that Prince Charles is
eccentric or out of touch. Yet if we look at what the Prince actually wrote, we see a completely different picture. The
Prince wrote a private memorandum in response to a request by Clarence House personal assistant Elaine Day for the right
of promotion to assistant private secretary.
Miss Day is pursuing an unfair dismissal and sex discrimination claim against the Prince of Wales's Office. She has used
the Prince's memo to put pressure on Clarence House to settle the employment tribunal case, or to bolster her own flimsy
case, by casting aspersions against her former employers. The picture she is trying to create is that the office is
hierarchical, and that secretaries such as her were not allowed to "rise above their station". The memo must be seen in
The memo itself was understandable and quite proper in the context in which it was written. The Prince of Wales's office
is run like any government department, albeit a very small one. As in any such organisation, it would be impractical for
someone who was hired as a typist to be promoted direct to a policy or executive position, which is what she was asking
for. To allege, as even some otherwise respectable media have done in the past few days, that the Prince has written
against people aspiring to improve themselves, is a dishonest travesty, and a gross distortion of what he wrote.
The Prince has for long campaigned to give young people the opportunity to achieve their goals, particularly through the
Prince's Trust, which he founded nearly 30 years ago. These goals must be realistic, however, which Miss Day's weren't.
The Prince of Wales simply said that he couldn't understand the expectation of promotion without requisite training,
ability or experience.
The lesson we might learn is that politicians and the media will never miss an opportunity at headline grabbing, whoever
and whatever may suffer in consequence. Truth will often be sacrificed in the interests of a "good" story (one which
will sell more papers). It must be a bitter disappointment to Prince Charles that, after all the years he has run the
Prince's Trust and similar initiatives, more attention is focused on one memo (taken out of context and selectively
quoted) than all the worthwhile work which his organisations have done, and continue to do, under his leadership and
Dr Noel Cox
The Monarchist League of New Zealand Inc