Royals to face government scrutiny over veto powers

Members of the royal family's ability to veto government legislation that could affect their private interests is to be investigated by the government after questions were raised about the extent of Prince Charles' involvement in political affairs.

The House of Commons' Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, chaired by Labour MP Graham Allan, will be looking into the issue after a Guardian investigation in 2011 revealed the Prince has held 36 meetings with ministers since the current government took power in May 2010, including four with prime minister David Cameron.

Allan has called royal consent for matters affecting private interests a "relic", but said that the committee's focus would be on whether the royals' involvement could compromise the democratic process.

Some 39 bills have been subject to consent by the most senior royals, including a 1999 private member's bill on transfering the power to authorise military strikes against Iraq from the monarchy to parliament, vetoed by the Queen.

Members of the royal family or staff are not expected to be called to the three hearings scheduled for September.