His Royal Highness Prince Charles has once again managed to get himself into the headlines after it was revealed that he had met eight government ministers in 10 months. The story follows the Prince's annual report, released last week, which showed an increase in the amount of taxpayer funding he received.
These stories are no doubt meant to make us feel outraged at our future king's behaviour, yet one can't help but feel that they are merely straws being clutched at by those who dislike the monarchy but shy away from attacking an elderly woman or a newlywed RAF helicopter rescue pilot.
It was the Mail on Sunday that disclosed the news that the Prince met at least eight ministers during a ten month period and pointed out that new Freedom of Information laws prevent details of those meetings being disclosed.
Why is this such a scandal? If true it would mean that the Prince met a minister on average less than once a month. Is it not rather to Prince Charles' credit that he has some interest in the affairs of the country he will one day be the king of?
While we are on the subject of the head of state, do those shocked by these revelations not know that the Queen herself meets with the Prime Minister every week for discussions on government policy? Neither the ministers meeting Charles nor the Prime Minister are bound to follow the wishes of the Royal Family, who have no real power.
Why is it that republicans who whinge about the unelected Prince Charles using his influence, seem to have nothing to say about unelected and bodies that really do have and use political power and receive far more taxpayer cash than the Prince of Wales ever has.
Where is pressure group Republic when the unelected European Commission proposes wide-ranging legislation for the European Parliament to rubber stamp? Where is Colin Firth when unelected judges declare that prisoners should be allowed to vote? Where are militant Labour MPs when that unelected quango, the Commission for Human Rights and Equality, threatens to overturn the fiscal policy of an elected government, as it did last year?
Not only do republicans rarely speak out against such undemocratic things they can often be found supporting them.
Then we come to Prince Charles' budget, which was released last week to headlines which universally stated that the Prince's taxpayer funding had gone up substantially in the last fiscal year.
True the Prince did receive an extra £298,000 from "the taxpayer", but what was somehow missing from the headlines was that Prince Charles is also a taxpayer and paid an extra £914,000 in tax during the same year long period, thanks mainly to the 50p tax rate.
If one takes those two figures alone then Prince Charles, on a net basis, gave £616,000 extra in tax last year. His total tax bill for the year actually came to just under £4.4 million, while his "taxpayer funding" was less than two million.
Thus on a net basis Prince Charles, who we are supposed to think of as a kind of parasite living off the state, actually contributed £2.4 million to Britain's coffers while at the same time raising £120 million for charity. Not exactly the sponger the headlines were suggesting.
Perhaps its time those claiming to be concerned about democracy and the spending of taxpayer cash found a new target.