Prince Charles lobbying David Cameron

The royal family may have more influence over the laws in the UK than previously thought, it has emerged.

Tory MP Tim Loughton has been forced to come to the defence of Prince Charles after he was accused of trying to influence policy during secret meetings with ministers which have since become public.

Charles was accused of political interference after it was revealed that he held 36 meetings with ministers since the government took power in May 2010. The prince has met David Cameron seven times, local government ministers four times and energy ministers six times.

Neither Whitehall nor Clarence House have commented on what was discussed at the private meetings, even though those departments oversee planning and the environment – two topics on which the prince has been most vocal about.

The news has prompted criticisms over the lack of transparency. But Loughton has come to the defence of the prince, whilst admitting that the prince likes to meet ministers over issues which he has a personal interest in.

He said: “The thing about him trying to influence policy is completely wrong. I found him hugely beneficial to me, well briefed and knowledgeable, with real life experience.

“He was really interested to hear what’s going on and make sure I was up to speed with the work of the Prince’s Trust. If you look at the sort of people he’s meeting it’s in areas of his interest and hands-on experience.”

Next month, the House of Commons political and constitutional reform committee will examine the prince’s little-known royal veto over new laws that affect his private interests.

In 2011, the Guardian reported that  ministers have been forced to seek permission from the prince to pass at least a dozen government bills.

Charles came under fire last year after it emerged that he wrote a series of 27 letters to ministers in an attempt to influence policy.

Those letters, as of yet, have not been made available to the public.

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