Prince Charles used his influence to call on government ministers to introduce alternative medicine into the mainstream NHS, the second batch of ‘black spider memos’ published today show.
Charles wrote in one letter that despite having endured “waves of invective over the years from parts of the Medical and Scientific Establishments (sic)” he believed that in some cases “a complementary approach could make a real difference.”
Charles added that “there should be more of a “whole person” approach to the treatment of illness rather than a “reductionist” focus on the particular ailment.”
The 17 letters, published at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, cover the prince’s correspondence between 2006 and 2009 with ministers in four departments and include correspondence between the heir to the throne and several government ministers about issues including health, rural affairs, and architecture. As future monarch, Charles is expected to remain strictly neutral when it comes to politics.
The prince wrote to the then-Secretary of State for Health, Alan Johnson MP, to express his support for the integration of complementary medicine into the NHS alongside conventional medicine.
He also raised his concerns about the possible closure of homeopathic hospitals that had proved beneficial to patients.
The minister replied to the prince to provide information on the funding for homeopathic hospitals and recent projects on the effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine.
The decision to release the correspondence cuts short what was set to be another battle over the publication of the second tranche of the prince’s correspondence with ministers. A freedom of information tribunal was due to hold a hearing later this year on whether The Guardian should be given access to this batch.
Last month the government released 27 letters between the prince and ministers after a 10-year legal battle which cost the government more than £400,000 in legal expenses.
A Clarence House spokesperson today defended Prince Charles, saying,
“The correspondence published by the Government today, Thursday 4th June, shows the range of The Prince of Wales’ concerns and interests for this country and the wider world. The seventeen letters (six from His Royal Highness, eight from Ministers and three from Private Secretaries) were written between September 2007 and June 2009.
“This is the final release of material related to the Supreme Court judgment. The Guardian put in two separate requests for letters, before the FOI act was amended. The conclusion of the first request resulted in the publication of letters last month. The other request was stayed whilst the first case went through the Supreme Court. In light of that judgment, the Government has now decided to publish the second batch of letters.
“The letters published by the Government show The Prince of Wales expressing concern about issues that he has raised in public like affordable rural housing, the quality of hospital food, the preservation and regeneration of historic buildings, an integrated approach to healthcare, climate change, and others.
“In all these cases, The Prince of Wales is raising issues of public concern, and trying to find practical ways to address the issues.”