British architect Richard Rogers (now Lord Rogers) has claimed that Prince Charles exercises his royal control over major architectural plans in London.
Prince Charles has earned a reputation as a traditionalist who has habitually supported classic architecture in London as a result of his decision to intervene in at least 10 proposed projects since his outspoken comments to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in a 1984 speech.
The speech made architectural waves with Prince Charles criticising a proposed extension to the National Gallery at the time, calling the modernist design a “monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend.”
The Prince has now made headlines again thanks to a recent profile in The New Yorker magazine on Rogers, aged 80, who has battled with Charles for years based on their divergent views of London’s architectural future.
Rogers claims that developers first advise the Prince of their architectural plans to avoid any financial obligations they may experience should the monarchy reject their plans.
In 1987, Rogers was replaced by the Prince’s favoured architect, John Simpson, for his proposed redevelopment of Paternoster Square in London. The new proposal reflected a more traditional design. In 2009, the Prince again blocked Rogers from commissioning his proposed £3 billion housing scheme for Chelsea Barracks.
In the case of Chelsea Barracks, it is reported that Prince Charles directly contacted the developers insisting they remove Rogers from a project he described at the time as a “gigantic experiment with the very soul of this city” carried out by “brutalists.”
Rogers responded by calling Prince Charles’ intervention “unconstitutional” and “an abuse of power”.
Many Londoners agree with Prince Charles, according to The Independent, which reported that approximately eight out of 10 people support the Prince’s views.
Despite Rogers’ claims of the Prince’s planning and architectural influence, he himself has been guilty of similar interference. In 2005, he wrote a letter to then-Prime Minister John Prescott protesting the design of classicist Quinlan Terry’s £20m infirmary at Christopher Wren’s Royal Hospital in Chelsea.
According to sources, Rogers described Terry’s design as “inadequate for the location, a pastiche and a copy” asking Prescott to consider a more modernist design.
The Prince has defended his stance on architecture maintaining his stance that he never insisted to kick-start “some kind of ‘style war’ between Classicists and Modernists.”
A spokesperson for the Prince who spoke to The Independent further denied the Prince’s involvement in planning decisions telling that despite Rogers’ claims, developers do not seek planning approval from the Prince of Wales.
“If developers choose to send the Prince of Wales information about upcoming developments that is up to them but the Prince does not, and cannot, grant planning permission,” the spokesperson said.
“The Prince does regularly receive letters from members of the public complaining about developments and planning decisions. The Prince has received this sort of feedback from the public for decades, which is why his interest in the built environment goes beyond individual developments and architectural style to encouraging a sense of community and price of place and improving the quality of people’s lives overall.”
Considering his troubled past with Prince Charles, Rogers told The New Yorker that he was surprised to be asked to contribute to a new million-dollar development in central London.
Now if Rogers looked closely to the city’s latest architecture, he will see that modern buildings are in fact dominating London’s skyline.
Echoing the ambitious architecture of Rogers’ contemporary projects, the three tallest buildings in London; The Shard, The Heron Tower and One Canada Square London are all considered “modernist” and “post modernist” architectural styles according to leading building authority, Emporis – just the way Rogers prefers it.