The papers: Prince's pressure and a mixture of Dollies

Prince Charles in a butterfly sanctuary Image copyright PA

Prince Charles's "quiet words" with government ministers from the last Labour administration are now not so hushed, as they feature in several of Monday's newspapers.

The Daily Mail leads on what it says are "extraordinary revelations" on "how Charles influenced key policies" in dealings with former Labour ministers.

The paper explains that the Prince of Wales had discussions about climate change and genetically modified crops with environment minister Michael Meacher, lobbied Northern Ireland minister Peter Hain for complementary medicine to be made available on the NHS and (unsuccessfully) tried to persuade education secretary David Blunkett to increase the number of grammar schools.

The Mail says the prince "bombards" ministers with handwritten "black spider" memos about his "pet projects".

The comments have been seized on by critics, the paper adds.

Labour MP Paul Flynn said: "Charles has strong opinions on lots of things, including eccentric anti-science views on homeopathy and GM foods.

"If there is a clash, he may have such strong views as to refuse a bill."

Anti-monarchist group Republic said the prince's views showed he had "a political agenda" which "was at odds with a lot of voters".

In its opinion column, the Mail says: "Engaging in secret plots to change government policy surely endangers the political neutrality of the monarchy and will give ammunition to those who think the institution is past its sell-by date."

The paper's columnist, Dominic Lawson, tells the prince to "put a royal sock in it", opining that "for his entire adult life the prince has encountered such sycophancy from anyone in his presence, which is bound to make even a kind person (which he is) suffer from delusions of wisdom."

Putting "a sock in it" is not what the Daily Telegraph leader writer thinks the prince should do.

The paper says: "It should be clear to anyone with a little knowledge of history that Prince Charles is acting precisely in accordance with this country's tradition.

"He has been consulted by ministers, and has chosen to encourage and warn where he felt appropriate."

It adds that Charles knows that when he ascends the throne he will have to be neutral, and "this is not news to him".

On its front page, the paper notes Conservative proponents of grammar schools have been keen to use the prince's apparent enthusiasm for academic selection as an excuse to ask the prime minister to "look again" at the issue.

The Guardian's leader comment says that as the bill for the royals rose by an "inflation busting 5.6% last year", the family should "do all they can to avoid losing friends and alienating people, including sometimes keeping stumm".

It says that in order to "forewarn" the country, what sort of king it can expect in Charles, the case for publishing his "still-secret missives to ministers grows ever stronger".

The Independent lets broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer have the last word.

She tweeted: "Surprised that Prince Charles wanted more grammar schools. You'd think that selection based on ability and merit wasn't really his thing."


'Elephant traps'

The Times leads on a "grand plan" from Chancellor George Osborne to "join up tax systems" by merging income tax with national insurance.

The paper says plans are "being lined up" to include the proposal in the Conservative manifesto for the next general election.

The Times quotes an "informed source" who says that Mr Osborne came "within a whisker" of announcing such a plan in the last budget.

The fear of an IT disaster "similar to those that have beset universal credit" halted Mr Osborne then, the source claims, but it could be introduced in the longer time frame of the next parliament.

National insurance has long been a bugbear to the chancellor, the paper says, as he likens it to a "stealth tax", saying it is hard to calculate how much anyone is paying.

In its leader column, the Times welcomes the proposals.

National insurance "is not a system for the 21st century", it states, adding that a "more transparent" taxation system would increase pressure to reduce the burden on those in the 50% tax bracket.

However, it writes: "It would be a big step. Radical steps can sometimes have unforeseen and contentious consequences."

The Independent's leader column agrees that scrapping national insurance "makes sense".

"While the coalition has done well to take the threshold for income tax up to £10,000, the low-paid are liable for NI, a point rarely acknowledged," it notes.

"Though abolishing [NI] is full of elephant traps and politically hazardous, it is time to end this national fiction."

The Sun devotes three pages to a tax crusade of its own.

The paper has launched a campaign to persuade the government to cut VAT on tourist accommodation and attractions in order to persuade more holidaymakers to take their break in the UK.

It says Britain has the highest VAT rate on hotel rooms and B&Bs in Europe and is amongst the highest in charges levied on entrance fees to tourist attractions.

"Slashing VAT" in the sector, the paper says, will create 120,000 jobs and give a £4bn boost to the economy.


'Missionary zeal'

The call by former director of public prosecutions Sir Keir Starmer to "wind up" police investigations into criminality in newspapers is, perhaps unsurprisingly, carried in much of the press.

The Daily Telegraph says three separate investigations - Operations Weeting, Elveden and Tuleta - have looked at how the media operates at the combined cost of £31.4m so far.

The paper says 150 Metropolitan Police officers have been deployed in the probes, compared to 27 investigating paedophiles in the capital.

The Sun says Sir Keir told Sky News that it was "not healthy in the long term to continually prosecute journalists and they must be able to do their jobs".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Rebekah Brooks was cleared of five charges over intercepted voicemails, misconduct in public office and perverting the course of justice.

Libby Purves, writing in the Times, accuses the Crown Prosecution Service of behaving "like activists".

She quotes senior CPS lawyer Greg McGill who said of the News of the World phone hacking trial, "this has been a lengthy and complex trial which was required to explore a culture of invading privacy".

"Whoa! Steady!" writes Ms Purves. "The Crown Prosecution Service is not tasked to 'explore cultures'. Its job is to prosecute and prove criminality: literal, factually, verifiable breaches of the law."

"Public prosecution requires a serious and willing complaint, evidence of criminality and a sense of proportion. Not missionary zeal," she concludes.

In the Independent, Matthew Norman takes a very different view.

"Following last week's Southwark Crown Court verdicts, the Murdoch titles would have us believe the person whose rights were shamefully violated was not a murdered schoolgirl, but a "vindicated" chief executive of News International."

In particular he accuses the Sunday Times of "self-righteous cant" for its leader column piece which said Rebekah Brooks was subject to "a witch hunt".

"Beside the Thames at Wapping, a tide of victimhood turns," he writes.


Benny Hill

For a tiny woman, Dolly Parton, 68, has cast a huge shadow over Monday's papers.

Few can resist putting an image of her Glastonbury Festival debut on their front pages, and even fewer have resisted writing about it.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Dolly Parton was watched by the biggest crowd of the festival

The Daily Star says the country singer "wowed" a crowd of 140,000 from the festival's main, Pyramid stage.

The Star says she told the hardy festival-goers - who have been periodically soaked by deluges since Thursday - "I grew up in the country so this mud ain't nothing new to me, and it ain't nothing new to you either."

She also "slipped in a tribute to Benny Hill" by playing the late comedian's theme tune on a saxophone, it adds.

The Independent's Jamie Merrill says that Parton "dazzled" the Glastonbury crowds and "brought the superstar quality" that had been missing from the rest of the festival.

"A country hoedown worthy of Dolly's Smokey Mountain hometown in Tennessee," Mr Merrill reckons.

The Daily Express says the "remarkably trim" star in the "rhinestone cowgirl-style outfit" was presented with an award before her set for selling 100 million records.

Festival founder Michael Eavis told the paper: "I'm really looking forward to hearing some of her songs live for the first time in my life, because the records are so good."

Reviewing Parton's set, Rebecca Nicholson in the Guardian said the star "had the packed crowd in the palm of her manicured rhinestone-studded hand.

"She said it best herself: it was corny, but it was fun."

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