Prince Charles and the black spider memos

Prince Charles Image copyright Getty Images

After 10 years, several court cases, and a cost to the taxpayer of hundreds of thousands of pounds, an end appears to be in sight for this dogged pursuit of Prince Charles's black spider memos.

A final resolution will only be delayed if there's a referral on an issue of European law to the Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

If not, the prince's private letters will either remain confidential, as the sender intended, or they'll be exposed to a large and inquisitive audience.

His friends say he has a right and a duty to communicate with the government of the day.

His critics accuse him of meddling and argue the way he operates should be transparent.

One day, as things stand, he'll be king.

As that day draws closer, the influence Prince Charles attempts to exert on ministers - and attempt he does - has greater relevance and significance.