Charles, the Prince of Wales, says he won’t be a “meddling” monarch when he finally becomes King, saying he would be “stupid” to continue to speak out.
The heir apparent has been criticised in the past for his views on topics such as the environment and architecture. In a BBC documentary marking his 70th birthday, he promised stay out of political matters because he is “not that stupid”, he said.
But for someone who has, by his own admission, tried to “make a difference” in his role as the Prince of Wales, this might be hard for Charles. Will he be able to bite his tongue?
He is known by people close to him to oscillate between two roles, that of convenor, and that of activist. Here are three controversial times Charles entered public debate.
The ‘Black spider’ memos
Charles was forced to defend his decision to write a series of letters to government ministers, dubbed the “black spider” memos because of his use of black ink.
A long-running legal battle by Guardian newspaper journalist Rob Evans to secure the release of the documents culminated in the UK’s highest court ordering the Government to publish them in 2015.
The letters showed the Prince had raised issues with ministers on several occasions between September 2004 and March 2005.
He tackled then-Prime Minister Tony Blair over the lack of resources for the armed forces fighting in Iraq and also wrote to ministers about the benefits of complementary medicine, the need for affordable rural homes and the threat to heritage buildings.
Clarence House said the correspondence showed “the range of the Prince of Wales’ concerns and interests for this country and the wider world”.
It also defended his decision to write the letters, with a spokesman saying: “The publication of private letters can only inhibit his ability to express the concerns and suggestions which have been put to him in the course of his travels and meetings.”
Controversy erupted when it emerged Charles had been routinely receiving copies of confidential Cabinet papers for more than 20 years.
An official document released after a three-year freedom of information battle, also in 2015, showed documents of the Cabinet and ministerial committees were being provided to a “standard circulation” list.
As well as the Queen, it included the Prince of Wales, although it was not suggested he had requested access. Heirs to the throne were believed to have been included in the group since the 1930s.
The papers, which would include details of ministers’ discussions on upcoming legislation, are normally kept secret for at least 20 years.
Republic, the campaign group calling for the the monarchy to be abolished, urged then-Prime Minister David Cameron to remove Charles from the list.
Charles has made his views on Britain’s buildings clear on numerous occasions over the decades.
During an infamous critique of a proposed extension to the National Gallery in 1984, he described the plans as a “monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend”. The proposals were later changed.
He has also on occasion criticised how architecture is taught, saying in 2009 that traditional buildings and projects are “looked down on”.
The same year he intervened in the redevelopment of Chelsea Barracks in west London, writing to the owners to reconsider their designs.
The intervention provoked an angry response from some of the country’s leading architects, who warned he was threatening the “democratic process” with the “destructive” comments.
‘Prince, son, heir: Charles at 70’ airs at 9pm on Thursday 8 November, BBC1.