Prince William to share Queen’s duties: Treasury document reveals secret plan to make him the ‘Shadow King’
By Glen Owen, Mail on Sunday Political Correspondent
13th December 2009
The Queen is to hand over a substantial part of her public duties to Prince William to help him prepare for the day when he becomes King, according to a confidential document obtained by The Mail on Sunday.
Secret papers reveal that plans to ease the strain on the 83-year-old monarch and her 88-year-old husband, Prince Philip, are at an advanced stage.
The disclosures come despite months of denials from the Palace that the Queen was planning to step back from her official work in favour of her 27-year-old grandson.
Sidelined? The move will fuel rumours that the Queen believes William, rather than her son Charles, represents the best long-term interests of the monarchy
The information is contained in a briefing note written by Chancellor Alistair Darling’s Treasury officials about new financial arrangements for Prince Charles and his sons.
Key paragraphs, disclosing the reason for the changes, are blacked out.
But this newspaper has obtained an uncensored version of the document which confirms that the Queen is grooming William as a ‘Shadow King’.
One blacked-out line states that ‘the Princes [William and Harry] will increasingly incur expenditure when undertaking engagements on behalf of The Queen’.
Another censored section, stressing the key role for William, says that ‘from next year, it is expected that HRH The Prince William will spend a significant part of his time on official engagements . . . we need to put the necessary provisions in place in anticipation of that’.
The leak will add to speculation that the Queen believes William, rather than Charles, represents the best long-term interests of the monarchy, and will raise new questions about the timing of William’s long-anticipated engagement to his girlfriend Kate Middleton.
The breach of secrecy caused alarm at the Palace last night, with a senior Royal source expressing concern that the private details had been leaked in ‘unredacted’ – the official term for uncensored – form.
The reaction reflects the extreme sensitivity over the issue of the Queen’s future in public life – and how to promote Prince William without undermining the monarch or Prince Charles.
It is bound to lead to new speculation that when the Queen dies, the monarchy could skip a generation, with the Crown bypassing Charles and being handed straight to William, although Royal sources strongly discount this option.
The Treasury document was prepared for Mr Darling in the run-up to April’s Budget.
The announcement that he was granting Charles tax relief worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, by allowing him to deduct his sons’ official expenses from his tax return, was slipped out on Budget Day in a separate ministerial note and was picked up by newspapers only several days later.
The tax perk funds an office at St James’s Palace, with six members of staff, which for the past few months has been organising the affairs of Princes William and Harry. Previously, the Princes had been represented by Charles’s staff.
Ominous sign: William in his RAF flying uniform, wants to ‘make a difference’
Censored: The blacked-out words in the Treasury note say ‘But as Sir Michael’s letter sets out, the Princes will increasingly incur expenditure when undertaking engagements on behalf of The Queen’
The briefing note, released following a Freedom of Information request, contained a third blacked-out section which showed that the entire operation to transfer duties to William was orchestrated by the Queen and Prince Charles.
It shows that the approach to the Government was made by Sir Michael Peat, Charles’s private secretary, who is also a confidant of the Queen.
Between 1996 and 2002, when he took up his position with Charles, Sir Michael was Keeper of the Privy Purse and Treasurer to the Queen.
The redacted section states: ‘Sir Michael Peat, The Prince of Wales’ Principal Private Secretary, has written to Dave Hartnett [Permanent Secretary at HM Revenue & Customs] asking HMRC to consider amending the MoU [ Memorandum of Understanding] to recognise this expenditure [on the Princes’ office].’
Princess in waiting: Will William soon get engaged to girlfriend Kate Middleton?
The previous MoU on Royal Taxation had been agreed in 1993.
Charles currently receives £16million a year from the Duchy of Cornwall estate, which was established in 1337 to provide an income for the heir to the throne.
The disclosure comes amid growing speculation about the Queen and Prince Philip’s continued ability to carry out their punishing schedule.
Kate was spotted at a Christmas carol concert in London last week
Last year, she performed 400 official engagements, including two overseas tours.
Onlookers said she appeared more frail than usual during last month’s State Opening of Parliament and at the Commonwealth summit in Trinidad a week later, the couple’s only foreign trip this year.
In February, she cancelled a State visit to the Middle East because she and the Duke ‘had too much on their plate’ – the first time an overseas visit had been abandoned on workload grounds.
Trooping the Colour: William with the Queen and other royals in June
Significantly, William will undertake his first official overseas tour in January when he represents the Queen in New Zealand and Australia. He is also expected to attend the World Cup in South Africa.
Publicly, the Palace has denied any plans for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to scale down their responsibilities, always insisting that the pair are in ‘robust’ health – although Royal sources have let it be known that the Queen would like other family members to bear much of the burden of her duties during the Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
Enquiries direct to the Duke about his fitness have been met with a curt: ‘Do I look bloody ill?’
Last night a spokesman for Republic, which campaigns for an elected Head of State, accused Buckingham Palace and the Government of mounting a cover-up.
‘We have been misled,’ the spokesman said. ‘This shows that planning is well under way to prepare for the next succession.
‘Here we have proof that the Palace is preparing William to take over the Queen’s duties.
‘The Palace operates in secrecy, doing deals behind the back of the British people to ensure a smooth transition to the next King.
‘In addition, we discover that at a time of recession, Charles is secretly lobbying for an exclusive tax break worth hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.
‘The fact the Treasury attempted to cover up this lobbying shows they knew it would be scandalous if made public.’
1985: William (front centre) at Trooping of the Colour with his mother Diana
A spokesman for St James’s Palace said: ‘Both Prince William and Prince Harry have gradually increased the number of engagements they carry out in support of the Queen, although their focus remains on their full-time careers in the Armed Services.
‘The Royal Household and HMRC agreed to update the Memorandum of Understanding for the first time in many years to reflect changes in the Royal Family. The previous Memorandum still included the Princess of Wales and not Prince William or Prince Harry.
‘The new MoU merely streamlined the bureaucratic arrangements concerning Prince William’s and Prince Harry’s official lives.
‘The new MoU made no difference to the amount of tax paid by the Prince’s Household.’
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