Prince Charles Memo: Know Your Place

11/19/2004 at 04:00 PM EST

Prince Charles Memo: Know Your Place
Ammar ABD RABBO/Pool/Gamma
Just what kind of man is Prince Charles? That seems to be the question on many Britons' lips after a two-year-old memo surfaced in which the prince chastises a member of his housecleaning staff.

The paper came to light following a lawsuit filed by Elaine Day, a 45-year-old personal assistant to Charles's deputy private secretary. Day resigned last year, but she is suing the royal house, claiming that she suffered unwanted sexual advances and discrimination from her superiors, PEOPLE reports.

On Wednesday, Day revealed that she had written a memo to Charles in March 2002 explaining that she might be qualified for higher positions on the household staff. Instead of responding to the assistant, the prince jotted some comments to her immediate boss and sent back the memo.

Day saw the note in her boss's basket, and took it for herself. On the note, Charles had written: "Why do they all seem to think they are qualified to do things far beyond their actual capabilities? This is all to do with the learning culture in schools – the child-centered learning emphasis which admits of no failure and tells people they can ALL be pop stars or high court judges or brilliant TV personalities-heads of states!" The king-in-waiting blamed "social utopianism" for such ideas.

Many citizens in the U.K. didn't see eye-to-eye with Charles on the topic. "I think he is very old-fashioned and out of time and he doesn't understand what is going on in the British education system at the moment," said Charles Clarke, Britain's education secretary.

Charles's written comments stand in contrast to the public portrayal of him since Princess Diana's death in 1997. Charles has come to be seen as a man of principal and a devoted father.

In a new interview with the BBC, Prince William, his eldest son, said, "(Brother) Harry and I and my father, we're a very close family. There are disagreements … But when they're happy times we have a really good time."

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