The secrecy surrounding the royals has been likened to that of Britain’s security services during the Cold War. The monarchy is certainly one of the country’s most secretive institutions, gaining access to ministers without any chance of scrutiny, spending public money without proper accountability. Defenders of the monarchy claim secrecy is necessary for the institution to remain impartial. This report argues that the opposite is true, that public institutions must be built on honesty and trust, that impartiality must be seen to be done.
The Royal Secrets Report sets out the nature of the problem, how royal secrecy works, what we know and don’t know and why it matters. This is not just a matter of principle but one of real politics. With Prince Charles having access to Cabinet papers and secret access to government ministers he – along with his family – has unique opportunities to influence government in line with his agenda and his own personal interests.
The report goes to the heart of what is wrong with an unaccountable, hereditary institution. This is why democratic values need to be infused into every corner of the state. Yet this report also makes clear that the monarchy is in a difficult position, that it has now become dependent on secrecy to survive. End the secrecy and we may well end the monarchy.