The black spider memos may be banal, but their publication is important

Yesterday afternoon, following a legal battle for almost a decade, Prince Charles’s letters to ministers were finally published.

The striking thing about the letters is how banal they are. Following attempts to block their publication from the crown and politicians alike, one would have expected earth-shattering revelations rather than topics such as school dinners and albatrosses. Nonetheless, their publication is hugely important.

The so-called “black spider memos” are important because the public has a right to know who is lobbying our ministers about what. It matters because for a functioning democracy, we need transparency so we can see where influence lies. Even the Royal Family must not be above such scrutiny.

That so long was spent trying to block the publication of the letters flies in the face of the principles of the Freedom of Information Act and the culture of transparency it encourages. It is heartening to see that these principles are finally being upheld.

Perhaps Prince Charles’s concerns are mundane, but the fact we have finally got a glimpse into the influence he exerts is anything but.