Here's a story about Prince Charles in today's Daily Mail:
Prince of Wales' funding from the taxpayer rose by almost a quarter last year, Clarence House accounts have revealed.
Cash from grant-in-aid and Government departments handed over to help Charles perform his duties jumped by 23.5 per cent to £3,033,000.
Strange though. Something appears to be missing. Where can it be?
His senior aide, Sir Michael Peat, said Charles had been mindful of the tough economic conditions.
'It's a recession and we have to say that we've looked at all costs very carefully,' he explained.
No, not there.
Sir Michael stressed that the increase was because the Prince was busier than ever.
'The Prince is entering his seventh decade. Many people would be slowing down but he seems to be going faster and faster.'
Imagine if this story weren't about Prince Charles - let's imagine we were looking at a story about someone else in the public sector, for example a teacher, or anyone who works for a local council. Let's imagine it was about their wages, which would be considerably less than several million quid a year. Not only would their justification for their remuneration not come at the top of the story, but someone else would be sticking their oar in.
Yes, the Tax Payers' Alliance. They're incredibly vocal about every other piece of public expenditure, making sure they make it clear how awful it is. So why not this one? Why did no-one think to give them a bell? Or maybe they did... but the rent-a-quote weren't forthcoming on this particular occasion? Of course, with their lack of transparency, it's hard to know where they stand on things like a taxpayer-funded monarchy. If they were in favour, for example, they'd be sailing against the wind as far as Mail readers are concerned. Check out these comments:
I'm not sure if that's just kite-flying to try and provoke their readers into defending Charles, or whether that's what Mailies really think of the monarchy. Who knows? All I do know is that the TPA are incredibly silent on this subject, whereas they're normally flying out of the traps. It's refreshing, of course, to see a story about public expenditure without them being in it, and it's a welcome move if it means they're never again to be rung up by Mail journalists; but I don't think that's quite the case. So what's the difference between ordinary people who work for the public sector and Prince Charles - why does he escape the TPA's wrath?