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Run it past the royals: New disclosures show Prince Charles offered veto on some planned laws
LONDON (AP) ' Prince Charles has a veto over some planned laws, according to ancient rules dating from the 14th century era of the Black Prince, and the British government said Monday it has no plans to change that system.
The disclosure that the heir to the British throne has been playing an active political role has touched a nerve among anti-monarchists, but Prime Minister David Cameron's office said no changes to constitutional law were necessary.
The Guardian newspaper sought a freedom of information request to find out how often Prince Charles is routinely consulted over legislation.
It also published a letter from Parliamentary officials reminding a House of Lords members that a proposed change to laws related to harbors and ports needed consent from the prince.
Parliamentary records show that Prince Charles has been consulted over at least 12 different planned laws over the last six years, with his consent sought over proposals on subjects including gambling, road safety, London's 2012 Olympics and housing.
Since around the mid-1330s, the Prince of Wales ' who was then Edward of Woodstock, also known as the Black Prince ' has been asked to approve legislation that could affect the Duchy of Cornwall, the 136,000-acre (55,000-hectare) estate established by Edward III to provide income for the heir to the throne.
Cameron's office said constitutional law dictates that Charles is currently consulted over laws that could potentially have an impact on the duchy, or on his interests in Wales or Chester. Charles is Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall and the Earl of Chester.
"If it is something that is specific to the Principality of Wales, the Earldom of Chester or the Duchy of Cornwall, then that consent is required and it's long been the case," a spokeswoman for Cameron said, speaking on customary condition of anonymity in line with policy.
The queen ' who has a ceremonial role in granting approval to every law passed by Parliament ' must also offer consent to legislation that affects her personal property or hereditary revenues, Britain's Cabinet Office said.
Neither Cameron's spokesman nor Prince Charles' office would say whether the prince had vetoed any planned legislation or demanded alterations.
"This is not about seeking the personal views of the prince but rather it is a long-standing convention in relation to the Duchy of Cornwall, which would have applied equally to his predecessors," the prince's office said in a statement.
Opponents said the disclosure threatened to undermine Britain's democracy and muddied the conventions under which the royal family are expected to refrain from involvement in day-to-day politics.
"That such a loophole exists shows our constitution is fundamentally antidemocratic," said Graham Smith, spokesman for Republic, which campaigns for the abolition of the monarchy.
Prince Charles has been known to publicly air his views on environmental issues, warning in 2008 of what he claimed were the dangers of genetically modified crops.
He also recently successfully lobbied developers planning a glass-and-steel tower on the site of a former London army barracks, persuading them to switch to a more conservative architectural style instead.
Associated Press Writer Cassandra Vinograd contributed to this report