Bear with us on this one – let’s wind back a bit to February 2005. In a dusty parliamentary committee, a member of the ruling class – a certain Mr Bertie Ross, Secretary and Keeper of the Records in the royal household – was being questioned by the Glaswegian MP Ian Davidson over Prince Charles’ accounts. The following exchange took place:
Mr Davidson: I am asking you whether you will provide a list of the properties that are held by the Duchy in order that we can measure whether or not they come up to the standard about which the Prince speaks so often and so movingly.
Mr Ross: I think it is something I would need to have a great deal clearer understanding of because who is going to be the judge of what is ethical and sustainable.
Mr Davidson: Public opinion. The Prince has spoken at great length on this. We would measure them against the criteria he has set himself. Can we have a report on the list of properties?
Mr Ross: I do not see why.
Mr Davidson: I know you do not see it but I am asking you, can we have it?
Mr Ross: I do think it would serve any better purpose—
Mr Davidson: You do not think that but I do. I am asking you—yes or no—will you make available a list of the properties? Are you refusing to do so?
Mr Ross: I am not saying no but I still need to be persuaded there is a good reason to do so.
Mr Davidson: If you are not saying no you are saying yes then. This is a simple yes/no question. Mr Ross: I am leaving the question unanswered because I cannot see the purpose of it.
Fast forward a bit, and we have today’s news (here, here, here and here – just for starters) that the said committee, treated with such aristocratic disdain by the royal’s skivvies, has launched a formal inquiry into whether the next in line to the throne is down and dirty tax dodger. Maybe the scrounging royals will think twice before getting shirty next time.