Has the panjandrum of Poundbury lost his famed rhetorical flair? The letter that Prince Charles wrote to Qatari Diar last year, which resulted in Richard Rogers' scheme for Chelsea Barracks being jettisoned, has come to light, and, frankly, it's a bit of a disappointment.
Referring somewhat inaccurately to the glass-and-steel design as "brutalist", our solipsistic and maudlin Prince writes that his "heart sank" when he saw the plans, which he later describes as a "gigantic experiment with the very soul of our capital city". Compare this pusilanimous whine with the thundering denunciation he made of a design for the National Gallery extension in 1984: a "monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved" has become architectural shorthand for any loathed project, inspired a hotly-contested annual trophy, and elegantly summarised the Prince's worldview. Compared to that locution, the Chelsea Barracks letter is dull and unoriginal.
Charles' letter was accompanied by a doodle from his pet architect Quinlan Terry, though the classicist never made the shortlist; indeed, the Prince's victory could turn out to be a phyrric one, as the list is split between traditional and modern architects. The prospect of a day in court for the heir apparent has not yet receded: the Mail this week put the willies up royalist Middle Britain by claiming that he could be summoned to a tribunal brought by the Candy brothers, who as planners of the Rogers scheme, are suing the Qataris.