The Prince of Wales is a study in contrasts: Britain’s first in line to throne after QE2 and tabloid target; simultaneously a proponent of organic farming and avid preservationist. Now Bonnie Prince Charlie is once again ruffling feathers by asserting his authority over two high-profile public building projects in the UK. What would Obama say?*
The latest brouhaha is over a proposed £14.5m building in Swindon for the UK’s National Trust, the non-profit caretaker of British land and coastline of which Prince Charles is a very prominent, and lucrative, patron. Despite the prince’s commitment to sustainability, his design preferences are less than modernist, resulting in an impasse that threatens his role as benefactor. And now the politicos are getting involved. According to Republic, the campaign for an elected head of state, “The public have a right to know the full extent of Charles’s meddling,” said spokesman Graham Smith. “We need to know if decisions are being made according to what the public wants and needs or according to what Prince Charles wants.” Them’s fightin’ words.
This comes after a scuffle reported on by The Guardian in which the Prince tried to intervene sight unseen with Jean Nouvel’s design for a £500m commercial and retail project situated next to London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral. (Getting no love lately, are we Jean?) As a rebuttal to Nouvel’s contemporary plan, he urged the owners to adopt a different kind of architecture offered by his own team of architects, termed by Nouvel to be “pastiche design” and assumed by everyone else to be a diluted throwback to classical British architecture.
Naturally, we let you the readers weigh in.
*Though Obama and his VP Joe Biden both claim they would have gone into architecture if not for politics, we’re not sure which way he leans architecturally. We do know that the Pritzker Prize winners will be honored at a White House dinner for the next four years of his term, and that architect-in-question Nouvel took home the Pritzker in 2008. You connect the dots.