Prince Charles architecture charity 'like a political lobby group'

Pressure group calls for Charity Commission to investigate Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment

Pressure group Republic has reported Prince Charles' architecture charity to the Charity Commission.

Republic said the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment had behaved like a "private lobbying firm" to promote Charles' own architectural views, calling into question the charity's independence.

Graham Smith, campaign manager at Republic, which campaigns for the abolition of the monarchy and whose supporters include former MP Tony Benn, author Will Self and agony aunt Clare Rayner, said the foundation's mission appeared to be to ensure that Charles' views were heard by government.

"The foundation is a registered charity but it is acting like a political lobby group," said Smith.

"Charles is deliberately using the foundation to circumvent the democratic planning process and enforce his personal tastes. It has a quite staggering level of influence, which is entirely inappropriate for a charitable organisation."

Republic decided to contact the commission following revelations in The Guardian about Prince Charles and his foundation's role in planning disputes.

Smith told Third Sector it posted its letter to the commission yesterday and expected it to investigate.

A commission spokeswoman said: "Once we have received the complaint we will assess it to see what role, if any, there might be for us in the matter."

Nobody at the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment, which generated £4.8m in 2007/08 and employed 102 people, was available to comment.

The foundation's website describes it as "an educational charity that exists to improve the quality of people's lives by teaching and practising timeless and ecological ways of planning, designing and building".

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