I know it is de rigeur among people on the Left to be terribly shocked at Prince Charles’ ‘interference’ in the Chelsea Barracks issue. I don’t see it like that.
For one thing, look who he was up against. One of the equally unelected demi-gods of architecture, some of whose projects are wonderful, and some of which are concrete modern bastilles that dehumanise us all. Then there are the developers, packed also with unelected power, riding roughshod over local opinion.
For another thing, he is right. Much of what gets erected in central London are phallic monuments to concrete and glass, the fantasies of powerful corporations and their client architects. Who is going to stand up for ordinary human beings against that kind of power?
And don’t tell me he should have waited for the planning committee to decide: planning committees are, in practice, often timorous, largely toothless affairs which are not allowed to take aesthetics into account. What are we, who believe that aesthetics are the proper concern of local people, to do?
Prince Charles may not be the perfect instrument for a democratic age, but he is no less democratic than his opponents.