A new book has exposed the backstabbing and jostling for position which goes on in Clarence House because of Prince Charles’s inability to manage is household.
Charles: The Heart of a King, by Catherine Mayer, suggests Clarence House is riddled with “glaring systemic weaknesses” with turf battles between the Prince of Wales’s staff “common and bloody”, she writes in The Times.
Ms Mayer discovered that staff in the Prince’s household is akin to the undercurrents of Henry VIII’s court and the rise of Thomas Cromwell during ‘The King’s Great Matter’.
“One former householder refers to Clarence House as Wolf Hall, in reference to the treacherous and opportunistic world depicted by Hilary Mantel in her fictionalised account of the rise of Thomas Cromwell under Henry VIII.”
She writes that much of the problem is because Charles refuses to manage staff properly, failing to provide clearly defined roles and boundaries. These problems are worsened by Charles’s habits of changing job descriptions for some which leaves some “threatened as colleagues are instructed to undertake work on turf they consider their own,” she says.
“Apart from his time in the navy, he has never held a paying job and doesn’t understand the anxiety such moves can create; no student of management theory, he believes rivalries promote better performance, rather than recognising the glitches and strains which territorial disputes can cause.”
She also reports that more than £100,000 was wasted in a ‘turf war’ over a pitch to house the Prince’s many charities under one roof as the battle led to the loss of the deal and Charles’s charities missed on on a potential future profile of tens of millions of pounds. Architects’ plans were drawn up, and an offer was made on a building in a former railway shed in the King’s Cross redevelopment and accepted by the developer, but planning permission was not sought. In the end, the building was sold by the developer for 2.3 times as much, leading a source to say; “The sad fact was that the deal we had was very good.”
But she says the Prince has suffered himself as much as his staff through his lack of management experience.
“Charles hasn’t always chosen his sages wisely. Being surrounded by people more likely to tell him what he wants to hear rather than the gritty truth makes it hard to know whom to trust. “That factor, combined with his native insecurity, means he doesn’t always believe he’s earned the praise that comes his way, while criticism has the power to cast him into despair.”
She quotes a businessman who worked with the princes’s household and later spoke of his “amazement” about the “glaring flaws” in the organisational structure and the backstabbing.”
And while Prince Charles has been taking on more of Her Majesty’s roles, Mayer writes that Charles plans to build the work he already undertakes into the role of the sovereign, rather than let them lapse.
“His independence, asserted over many years, is . . . not something he will readily cede,” she says, citing one courtier saying he feels like ascending to throne will be like “prison shades” closing.
But others have countered those arguments, saying that it is all speculation because “there is no-one other than his mother with whom he would discuss such a sensitive matter”.