Aide defends Prince Charles over Qatari building row

29th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Prince Charles' spokesman defended Tuesday his intervention in a high-profile London building project which caused the deal to collapse, saying the royal had only voiced local residents' concerns.

A judge last week described the heir-to-the-throne's overtures to the Qatari developers of the Chelsea Barracks, which caused them to abandon the three billion pound (4.5 billion dollar, 3.5 billion euro) project, as "unwelcome".

Speaking for the first time since the judge's ruling Friday, which found that developers Qatari Diar had breached their contract by pulling out, Charles' spokesman insisted he was only repeating the objections of local people.

"It is part of the Prince of Wales's official duties to encourage and advise and warn and to make sure the views of ordinary people that might not otherwise be heard receive some exposure," said royal aide Michael Peat.

"The Prince of Wales was contacted by local residents who were concerned about the proposed development on the Chelsea Barracks site.

"They asked him to do what he could to ensure that their views received exposure. Their views did represent the views of the majority."

When the prince wrote to the Emir of Qatar's family criticising the plans by leading architect Richard Rogers, he was "repeating exactly what the local residents were saying all along," Peat said.

Rogers, best known for the iconic Pompidou Centre in Paris, had drawn up a glass and steel design for the former barracks but the plans were strongly criticised by the prince, an outspoken opponent of modern architecture.

Peat added that when the judge had described the prince's intervention as unwelcome it was not his own view.

"He said that Qatari Diar and the Candy brothers (the co-developers who brought the case against the Qataris) must have found the letter unexpected and unwelcome," he said.

© 2010 AFP

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