Prince Charles's 'black spider memos' were released after a ten-year legal battle. Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP/Scanpix
Decade-old letters written from Prince Charles to British government officials were released by the Guardian on Wednesday and within the trove of documents is a letter to former Prime Minister Tony Blair in which the Prince of Wales expresses admiration for Denmark’s competition laws.
In the correspondence, Prince Charles writes about the UK dairy sector and the Office of Fair Trading acting as “a serious obstacle to developing dairy co-operatives”. Charles then points to Denmark as a model for emulation.
“Meanwhile, in Europe, particularly Denmark and Germany where co-operatives are more established, competition law is being interpreted entirely differently and there is one co-operative in Denmark that has a ninety per cent market share!” Prince Charles wrote, referring to dairy giant Arla.
Arla began as a co-operative between Danish and Swedish milk farmers back in the 1880s and now has 12,500 owners based in seven countries: Sweden, Denmark, the UK, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Arla explains its set up here.
Prince Charles wrote that Arla’s share “may be somewhat excessive, but unless United Kingdom co-operatives can grow sufficiently the processors and retailers will continue to have the farmers in an arm lock and we will continue to shoot ourselves in the foot!”
The entire exchange can be read here.
The correspondence with Blair is one of 27 letters released by The Guardian on Wednesday after a ten-year legal battle. The release of the so-called ‘black spider memos’ reveal what The Guardian classified as “the breadth and depth of the heir to the throne’s lobbying at the highest level of politics.”