Richard Rogers: Prince Charles 'single-handedly destroyed' Chelsea Barracks
Angry Rogers demands public inquiry over Prince’s intervention with Qatari royal family
In an aggressive interview with the Guardian today (16 June) Rogers said: ‘The prince does not debate and in a democracy that is unacceptable and in fact is non-constitutional. I think he pursues these topics because he is looking for a job and in that sense I sympathise with him. He is actually an unemployed individual, which says something about the state of the royal family. I don’t think he is evil per se, he is just misled.’
‘The prince always goes round the back to wield his influence, using phone calls or in the case of the Chelsea barracks, a private letter. It is an abuse of power because he is not willing to debate. He has made his representations two and a half years late and anyone but him would have been shown the door. We should examine some of the ethics of this situation. Someone who is unelected, will not debate but will use the power bestowed by his birth-right must be questioned.’
Rogers, a Labour peer in the House of Lords, has demanded a public inquiry over the Prince’s meddling in the Chelsea Barracks scheme: ‘This sort of situation is totally unconstitutional and should never happen again’.
On 12 June Rogers was effectively fired from the scheme when Qatari Diar, the client, withdrew the planning application for the development following mounting pressure from Prince Charles. The Prince had continually expressed his disdain for Rogers’ design and contacted the Qatari royal family directly to lobby for an alternate classicist proposal by Quinlain Terry.
‘When the Qataris took full control about nine months ago, I was told to keep out of the limelight and stay quiet. There was no major public relations strategy. It gave us the feeling they didn’t understand that this was a democratic process. The Qataris never sorted out the difference between royalty and government’.
Rogers said he was ‘very upset’ to be dropped from the project and claimed that after more than two years of work the Chelsea design was ‘one of the best schemes my office has ever produced‘.
‘Up to two months ago we were pretty convinced we were going to get our scheme through Westminster’s planning committee. We enjoyed some of the strongest support I have ever had from Westminster and the Greater London Authority, including the great report we had only last week from the planners, which is why I thought we were home and dry. I just don’t know what happened.’
This is not the first time that a Rogers scheme have been vetoed by the Prince. Rogers was the frontrunner to develop Paternoster Square beside St Paul’s Cathedral and the favourite to rebuild the Royal Opera House - both schemes were scupperred by the Prince. According to Rogers: ‘I was basically told: “the prince does not like you”.’
In a parting shot, Rogers took on the idea that Charles was expressing the resentment that local people felt towards the scheme: ‘The idea that he is a man of the people fascinates me,’ said Rogers, ‘he is a man of the rich people, that is for sure.’