Top British architect accuses Prince Charles of ‘meddling’

June 16th, 2009 - 6:47 pm ICT by IANS  

London, June 16 (DPA) The row over the planned construction of a Qatar-backed luxury housing project in London Tuesday prompted calls for an examination of the “constitutional powers” of Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne.
Prominent architect Richard Rogers, whose modernist design for the prestigious project was withdrawn by investors last week - following a reported intervention by Prince Charles - said a “dangerous precedent” had been set.

It was reported that Prince Charles used his contacts within the Qatari royal family to raise his objections to the high-rise steel and glass project, which he called “unsuitable”.

In a surprise decision last week, the British arm of Qatari Diar, the real estate investment company, withdrew the plans on which permission was due to be given this week.

Rogers, whose futurist designs include the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Millennium Dome in London and the revamped Barcelona bull ring, called for a panel of constitutional experts to examine the prince’s powers.

“I think that anyone who uses his power due to birth (heir to the British throne) breaks a constitutional understanding,” Rogers, 75, told the BBC.

“If we are to avoid a dangerous political clash, then we need someone to solve the problem at a level which is not about this site, but at the level of royalty and their say in political matters,” said Rogers.

“Are we going to have royalty dictating to us modern art? Are we going to have royalty dictating their taste in music? Are we going to have royalty dictating their belief in medicine, modern or not?” asked the architect.

And he himself gave the answer.

“No, because they’re not experts in any of those fields, but more important still it’s not constitutional to enter into those areas which are political, where they’re protected.”

Clarence House, the London residence of Prince Charles, said it had no comment to make.

The site of former army barracks near London’s fashionable Kings Road was bought by developers for nearly one billion pounds ($1.6 billion) in 2006, and sold on to Qatari Diar.

The Rogers’ plan envisaged the construction of 17 blocks of flats, some 10 storeys high, and a shopping mall in the midst of a leafy park.

The modern building would have been in the immediate neighbourhood of the Royal Hospital, a retirement home for army veterans, designed by 17th century architect Christopher Wren.

The prince, whose strong views on modernist architecture are well manifested, is backing a more traditionalist design. Local campaign groups have also protested against the Rogers plan, but opinions remain divided.

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