The letter at the centre of the controversy surrounding Prince Charles’ opposition to Richard Rogers’ Chelsea Barracks proposals has been revealed
It is alleged in High Court proceedings that the Prince of Wales’ intervention persuaded the Qatari royal family to withdraw the original £3 billion glass and steel design for the key London site. A new masterplan for the 5.2ha site has since been drawn up by Dixon Jones, Squire and Partners and Kim Wilkie Associates.
In the letter published yesterday in the London Evening Standard Charles underlines ‘nakedly emotional’ words with thick black pen as he sets out his opposition to Roger Stirk Harbour + Partners’ proposed ‘Brutalist’ design for the flats.
In a note with a handwritten greeting and signature, Charles told Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber bin Muhammad Al Thani that it was essential to protect the ‘very soul of our capital city’ by choosing a more classical design.
He also included a sketch of the prince’s favourite neo-classical architect Quinlan Terry, as well as an invitation for the sheikh to visit his neo-Georgian Poundbury village in Dorset to see how traditional designs can be a commercial success.
Dr John Olsson, director of the Forensic Linguistics Institute, told the London Evening Standard that the prince had used ‘personal language’ to add to the impact of the letter, which he described as ‘a simple emotional appeal from one individual to another’.
Dr Olsson added: ‘Some may argue in an age of dissimulation and spin that this is a very refreshing characteristic.’
The letter was revealed in the High Court as part of an £81 million breach of contract case over the barracks.
The Qataris’ former development partner, Monaco property tycoon Christian Candy, of CPC Group, alleges the Middle Eastern royals scrapped the plans against his wishes after Charles voiced his opposition. Mr Justice Vos is due to deliver his verdict on Friday morning.
Candy is suing his Qatari partners in the scheme for £81 million for breach of contract. He said in evidence to a High Court judge that he found out in March last year that Charles had written a letter criticising the plans by architect Lord Rogers.
He said the Emir of Qatar had decided the planning application for the modernist scheme for 650 flats on the site must be withdrawn after a meeting with the prince.
Jeremy Titchen, of development company Qatari Diar (QD), was alleged to have said to Candy’s colleague: ‘When the emir was in the UK and spoke to the Prince of Wales, the Prince of Wales p***ed in his ear about how awful the scheme was.
‘The emir then went mental at Ghanim (bin Saad al Saad, managing director of Qatari Diar) telling him how awful the design was, and that they must withdraw as soon as possible.’
Candy, who owns CPC Group, the other main company in the development consortium, is claiming the Qatari partners in the UK’s most expensive housing project withdrew the planning application in breach of their contract for a payment for shares sold to QD on planning approval.
The 12.8 acre barracks site is in one of London’s most expensive residential areas and was sold by the Ministry of Defence for £959 million to the Qatari Diar CPC consortium, which commissioned a scheme designed by architect Lord Rogers.
The head of QD is Sheik Hamad bin Jasim, who is also prime minister of the country and a cousin of the Emir.