The monarchy is exempt from freedom of information laws

The monarchy is the only public body to enjoy a total exemption from the Freedom of Information Act. That means that members of the royal family - unlike politicians and civil servants - can carry out their roles in almost total secrecy.

The Freedom of Information Act has never applied directly to the royal household but some documents were able to be released if they passed a “public interest test”. The Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 removed this test, effectively introducing a blanket ban on access to all royal documents for at least 20 years.

One effect of the monarchy's exemption is that the public is prevented from accessing detailed information on how the royal household spends public funds.

More significantly, the exemption conceals the extent to which members of the royal family may attempt to influence government policy. This has taken on a heightened importance in recent years as the Prince of Wales makes increasingly vocal interventions into contentious political debates. Indeed, it has been suggested by some – including the Campaign for Freedom of Information - that the absolute exemption was introduced precisely to conceal the political role he is taking.