Prince Charles letters: what does a graphologist make of them?

Why wait for the publication of the Charles ‘black spider’ memos to work out what the future king thinks, when you can just ask a graphologist to look at one of his old ones?

Whether you think he is a “meddling prince” whose handwritten notes are an inappropriate attempt to intimidate government ministers, or just a modern monarch-to-be flouting an outdated protocol by refusing to pretend he has no opinions – we will soon know a lot more about Prince Charles.

For the past 10 years the Guardian has been working to reveal the contents of the heir apparent’s stream of letters to seven Whitehall departments that he fired off between 2004 and 2005. Now the supreme court has ruled they must be made public.

But while we don’t know their contents, we do know the scrawling hand they are written in has won them the menacing nickname, the “black spider memos” – apparently coined by the MPs who received them.

And handwriting experts say Charles’s penmanship already highlights quite a bit about the man who will one day reign over us. Graphologist Elaine Quigley sounds slightly shocked by the suggestion it is in any way cranky that the prince still writes out his notes, reminding me, gently, that he is not a teenager accustomed to communicating by text.

“He is very traditional, he would think it’s more courteous – and what’s expected – to write by hand as a natural first option”, she points out.

What’s more, she says, his longhand – in a letter to Harold Wilson in the 1960s that is already public – reveals he is a “sensitive man and not at all brash”. And calling it “spidery” is unfair, saying it is very “readable”.

“It’s a nice clear hand, going logically forward,” she says, which shows “he is very much a man who likes to do things his own way”.

Prince Charles … courteous, according to the Guardian's expert.
Prince Charles … courteous, according to the Guardian’s expert. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA

Worryingly for any ministers receiving an unwanted letter, the “clear, joined up letters” show he is single-minded. “He likes to have one project and take it to its conclusion. He doesn’t like to have distractions… he puts his whole effort into one thing.”

This, she insists, means he has a “greater degree of integrity” and is “someone who gets things done”, but might have had a less rosy interpretation from anyone at the sharp end of his pen.

Yet Quigley says his writing is not that of a high-handed man.

“If you look at the way the letters are made – the top part of the [letter shows the] ‘goal’ part of his thinking … we have a curve, showing he likes to share his thoughts. He wants to be a communicator.”

But, perhaps unsurprisingly for a potential King – that doesn’t mean he is ready for a heated debate. “He’s not necessarily going to be someone who exchanges views,” Quigley says carefully, “as much as shares his own.”

Less expected, is that his wide writing shows the traditional Prince, known for his opposition to modern architecture (and preference for homeopathy over modern medicine) “likes to live in the present”.


Homa Khaleeli

The GuardianTramp

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