What happens in the palace, stays in the palace
Published 20/01/2011 | 05:00
A new British law that took effect yesterday makes Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Prince William exempt from freedom of information laws, meaning many private details of their lives won't be made public for decades.
Justice Secretary Ken Clarke says the exemption will protect the monarch's private conversations with politicians and officials -- but information advocates say it will make it even harder to hold to account a royal family that costs millions.
For centuries, the workings of the British monarchy were shrouded in secrecy by a blend of law, convention, deference and media self-censorship. But under freedom of information laws that took effect in 2005, information could be released if it was in the public interest.
"It at least raised the possibility that information could be disclosed," said Maurice Frankel of the Campaign for Freedom of Information. Although the 84-year-old queen has no political power, she meets regularly with prime ministers and other senior politicians to talk about events of the day.