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Architect hits back against UK Prince

ONE of Britain's leading architects yesterday accused Prince Charles of abusing his constitutional powers by "single-handedly destroying" one of London's biggest luxury housing developments.

Richard Rogers said the heir-to-the-throne's intervention in the estimated 3 billion pound (US$5 billion) project designed by him, raised questions about democracy and the power of the royal family.

"Anyone who uses his power due to birth breaks a constitutional understanding," he told BBC radio. "It is not a law, it is a constitutional understanding and a trust we have within our society about the role of people who have received power in that manner."

Rogers said Charles, 60, known as a critic of modern architecture, privately wrote to Qatar's royal family to protest about Qatari-backed plans to build apartment blocks on an old army barracks in Chelsea, an upmarket part of London.

Charles described the glass and steel plan as unsympathetic to the site, next to the Royal Hospital, a classical building by 17th-century architect Christopher Wren, media reports said.

The local planning department was due to rule on the project soon, but the developers withdrew their plans last Friday. Convention dictates the British royal family stay politically neutral.

Rogers, who also co-designed the Pompidou Center in Paris and the reworked Barajas Airport in Madrid, said the prince had "single-handedly destroyed this project."

Former housing minister Nick Raynsford said Charles had acted in an "almost feudal way," while the Royal Institute of British Architects said it could deter foreign investors.



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