Prince Charles can't meddle in politics -- but he can write letters

After years of fighting in court, Britain's Guardian is claiming victory and revealing letters that Prince Charles wrote to elected officials. The so-called "black spider" memos were released in their newspaper and the letters have some people questioning whether the prince is overstepping his bounds.

As Prince Charles went about his royal duties Wednesday, his press secretary leaped to his defense, pushing a reporter's mic aside and protecting him from the media -- which is what this battle was all about, reports CBS News correspondent Charlie D'Agata.

They're less innocuous than a royal rant, in a tone more politely persuasive than overly demanding.

Like his letter to then Prime Minister Tony Blair during the Iraq war about under-equipped troops:

"I fear that this is just one more example of where our Armed Forces are being asked to do an extremely challenging job (particularly in Iraq) without the necessary resources," the prince wrote on September 8, 2004.

Others range from the scourge of badgers to the plight of the albatross and the toothfish.

On October 21, 2004, he wrote to the Environment Minister Elliot Morley: "I particularly hope that the illegal fishing of the Patagonian Toothfish will be high on your list of priorities."

They're eclectic and offer a glimpse of what Charles may be like when he one day takes the throne, said royal biographer Ingrid Seward.

"I think it's a big indication that Charles is not going to shut up when he becomes king. ... But we have an unwritten constitution. He can't meddle in politics. He has to be above politics, but he can still write letters," Seward said.

Which raises the question whether letters written here at Prince Charles' Clarence House should have any influence in Britain's Houses of Parliament.

Even in these modern times, Prince Charles is one guy who apparently loves putting a pen to paper.

"He wrote to a friend of mine about her pigs. Eight pages. That's how he communicates, through letters," Seward said.

Though Charles may keep on writing letters, the laws have been changed so that any correspondence from the monarch or the heir to the throne will be kept private for 20 years.