What will Prince Charles say about Chch demolitions?

21:16, Jun 21 2012

Prince Charles and Camilla will visit New Zealand in November and it defies belief that the royal couple will skip Christchurch.

What might the Prince - a well-known advocate of heritage architecture and future Defender of the Anglican Faith - say about demolitions in Christchurch?

It's exquisitely delicate, of course, because royals are banned from making political statements and there are plenty of political arguments flying over the demolitions of Christ Church Cathedral, Canterbury's Gothic Revival and Victorian heritage buildings.

But we know the Prince is concerned about Christchurch heritage demolitions because his senior architecture and planning adviser, Hank Dittmar, recently wrote to a NZ heritage campaigner: "We share your concern that the devastation brought about by the earthquake will be further compounded by short-sighted decision-making over Christchurch's heritage ...  I will be following developments, and the future of the cathedral, with interest."

Moreover, the Queen has already grilled Prime Minister John Key about decisions in Christchurch.

So, what are the chances the Prince will break constitutional conventions and speak out publicly about the devastation wrought by man? C'mon Charles, be yourself.

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Unfortunately, the king-in-waiting has been avoiding this sort of thing for decades. The best we can probably hope is that Charles gives CERA supremo Roger Sutton Anglican Bishop Victoria Matthews, and Earthquake Minister Gerry Brownlee a right bollocking, in private.

It won't make any difference. Sutton and company have the fortitude to withstand the annoyance of a powerless prince.

But here's hoping Charles endorses the Avon Okataro Network (AvON) plan for a great park and wetland through the red zone suburbs  and it's logical tail, a bike and walking track along the estuary and sea from Ferrymead Bridge to Scarborough, as proposed by Christchurch Coastal Pathway.

These projects are almost  uncontroversial (except perhaps inside Brownlee's head) and maybe Charles' mana can make them inevitable. Over to you, Prince Charles.

The Press