‘Black Spider’ Letters, Diana Divorce: Charles’ Biggest Scandals

LONDON: Charles has been a controversial royal over the years, from his affair while married to Princess Diana, and alleged ongoing political interference, to occasional gaffes and scandals involving aides.
Queen Elizabeth II’s eldest son has never enjoyed the same public affection as his mother, which may add to the challenges he now faces as king.
He endured a series of public relations headaches decades ago, including accusations of being cold to his enduringly popular first wife Diana.
Despite some better press more recently, the tabloids were well adept at taking shots at him because he seemed aloof and aloof.
Meanwhile, the portrayal of his marital troubles in the “The Crown” series is unlikely to have garnered much sympathy a few decades after that difficult time.
He has also been accused of meddling in politics on various topics, including architecture, homeopathy and climate change.
And in 2021, his most trusted assistant resigned for a second time in his career as a royal courtier amid controversy.
“I think all these things are harmful, from ‘The Crown’ to reality to everything that’s going on,” royal author Penny Junor said in late 2021, when a cash-for-honours scandal erupted involving Charles’ charity empire was involved.
“It’s not all good news. The Queen is much loved, Charles is less loved. I think it will be hard for him no matter what happens, but all these revelations don’t help.’
Charles’ image took a devastating blow during his bitter divorce from Diana.
In her extraordinary 1995 interview, in which she revealed her feelings about his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, Diana famously said, “There were three people” in her marriage.
The royal couple had made the great announcement that they were splitting in 1992, but after the fallout from the controversial sit-down with the BBC’s “Panorama” program, they finally agreed to divorce.
By giving her version of events — and admitting her own infidelity — Diana exposed her struggles within Britain’s most famous family, criticized the royal family and questioned Charles’ eligibility to become king.
It drew disgust in parts of the British establishment, but won her public sympathy, which was only heightened after her death in a car accident in Paris in 1997.
Charles was long vilified, both for the extramarital affair, which was blamed for the breakup, and in part for the poor initial treatment of the royal family. Diana’s deathwhen they were widely criticized for appearing heartless and out of step with the public.
However, he has gradually regained some public support and reluctantly accepted that he has found happiness with Camilla, whom he married in 2005.
Charles has caused controversy for speaking out and appearing to pressure politicians privately on various controversial public issues, from health to the environment.
In a now infamous series of letters between him and ministers known as the “black spider” memos because of his scribbled handwriting, Charles questioned them on a range of topics.
They were made public in 2015 after a ten-year legal battle by The Guardian newspaper and include the plight of the Patagonian Toothfish and its famous, modernist building plans.
Charles’ opposition to bold new design first attracted public attention in 1984 when he compared plans to transform London’s National Gallery to adding a “monstrous carbuncle on the face of a beloved and elegant friend”.
The revelation of the “black spider” letters sparked a backlash against the then-future king, fearing he was exceeding his role.
However, in a 2018 interview on the occasion of his 70th birthday, Charles insisted that he had never meddled directly in party politics and understood the difference between being a Prince of Wales and being a monarch.
More recently, Charles has been embroiled in an alleged cash-for-honours scandal.
A series of revelations in the paper claimed his closest associates coordinated the work to grant royal honors and even British citizenship to a Saudi businessman who donated large sums to restoration projects of particular interest to Charles.
Michael Fawcett, his former clerk who rose to become chief executive of his charitable foundation, resigned in 2021 after the launch of an internal investigation into the allegations.
It was the latest claim to tarnish Fawcett — and, by association, Charles.
In 2003, Fawcett resigned after being accused of bending palace rules and accepting valuable royal benefits.
He was later cleared of charges of financial misconduct over the sale of unwanted royal gifts, but an internal report found several members of Charles’ household guilty of “serious deficiencies”.

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