LONDON (AP) — Prince Charles has had 36 private meetings with British Cabinet ministers in the last three years, a newspaper revealed Monday, and the large number has spurred accusations that the heir to the throne is meddling in politics.
The Daily Mail compiled a list of the meetings from public records. They include seven with Prime Minister David Cameron since the May 2010 election.
The heir to the throne is expected to be politically neutral, but 64-year-old Charles has expressed strong opinions on issues including education, architecture, religion, the environment, organic food and homeopathy.
The meetings included seven with ministers responsible for energy and climate change and five with environment ministers.
In an editorial, the usually pro-royal Daily Mail accused Charles of a "campaign of meddling."
"By lobbying ministers behind closed doors, the prince appears to be using his position to manipulate policy," the newspaper said.
Charles' office said Monday that the prince had a duty "to bring his unique perspective" and experience into meetings with officials.
It said the meetings were part of Charles' preparations for becoming monarch, and that he contributed "important insights, perspectives and knowledge built over 40 years of experience in a range of areas aimed at transforming lives and building sustainable communities."
Britain's constitutional monarch has no political power, but meets regularly with prime ministers and other senior politicians to talk about events of the day. In contrast to her son, 87-year-old Queen Elizabeth II has not publicly expressed personal opinions.
This is not the first time concerns have been raised about Charles' political activities. The government and the High Court have blocked a years-long bid by the Guardian newspaper to force the disclosure of the prince's letters to government officials.
Attorney General Dominic Grieve said last year that the "particularly frank" letters reflect Charles' personal views and might give Britons the impression that their future monarch is not politically neutral.