The Prince of Wales is said to be “more than disappointed” by the Government’s policy to send migrants to Rwanda, with reports that he privately described the move as “appalling”.
It comes after Home Secretary Priti Patel welcomed a High Court ruling paving the way for the first flight to the east African country to go ahead on Tuesday.
The Times reported that Charles is especially frustrated at the policy as he is set to represent the Queen at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the Rwandan capital later this month.
But Rwanda has come out in defence of the scheme, arguing it is “well thought out” and should be given “a chance”.
Several people due to be sent to Rwanda as part of Ms Patel’s bid to curb Channel crossings, as well as campaign groups and a union, had asked judges to block their deportation flight.
Up to 130 people had been notified they could be removed, and on Friday the court in London heard that 31 people were due on the first flight, with the Home Office planning to schedule more this year.
The first claim against the policy was brought by lawyers on behalf of some asylum seekers alongside the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), which represents more than 80% of Border Force staff, as well as groups Care4Calais and Detention Action, which are challenging the policy on behalf of everyone affected.
Mr Justice Swift ruled against granting a temporary block to the policy until a full hearing next month, adding: “I do not consider that the balance of convivence favours the grant of the generic relief.”
The Times said a source had heard Charles express opposition to the policy several times in private, and that he was “more than disappointed” by it.
They were cited as saying: “He said he thinks the Government’s whole approach is appalling. It was clear he was not impressed with the Government’s direction of travel.”
Clarence House refused to comment on “supposed anonymous private conversations” with the prince, but stressed that he remains “politically neutral”.
Charles has been criticised in the past for his views on topics such as the environment and architecture, but said he recognises being heir to the throne and head of state are two different roles.
In a BBC documentary to mark his 70th birthday in 2018, he said he would stop speaking out on issues when he became king, saying he was “not that stupid” to continue what some had termed as “meddling”.
The prince acknowledged he would not be “able to do the same things I’ve done as heir” and as monarch would have to operate within “constitutional parameters”.
Charles will be joined in Rwanda by the Duchess of Cornwall as Commonwealth prime ministers and presidents gather for CHOGM.
The future king will spend his first day meeting survivors and perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide.
CHOGM will take place in Kigali during the week of June 20, after its postponement in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Yolande Makolo, a spokesperson for the Rwandan government, told Sky News people should give the migration partnership “a chance”.
“It’s very well thought out, it’s going to be well-resourced, we’re determined to make this work, we have the experience, we’re building the capacity to do this properly,” she said.
“So everyone just needs to give this a chance to work. And we need to look at migration differently.
“I understand there’s a lot of excitement about this, but we also need to work together as global partners to make things right, to protect people, and to correct the imbalance in opportunities.”
Shortly after his ruling at the High Court, Mr Justice Swift granted the claimants permission to appeal, suggesting Court of Appeal judges would hear the case on Monday.
During Friday’s proceedings, it emerged the Home Office had already scrapped removal directions for three people set to be on the first flight, and that two more would also have them cancelled.
But Mr Justice Swift denied an injunction to the two remaining claimants, one who had left Syria and the other Iraq.
“I accept that the fact of removal to Rwanda will be onerous,” he said.
“I do not consider there is any evidence for the duration of the interim period that there will be ill-treatment, refoulement, or anything that gives rise to Article 3 treatment.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ms Patel welcomed the decision.
The Home Secretary said: “I welcome the court’s decision in our favour, and will now continue to deliver on progressing our world-leading migration partnership.
“People will continue to try and prevent their relocation through legal challenges and last-minute claims, but we will not be deterred in breaking the deadly people-smuggling trade and ultimately saving lives.”
Campaigners said they were “disappointed” and “deeply concerned” for the welfare of those due to be sent to Rwanda but added they would appeal against the decision on Monday.
A Government spokesperson said: “Our world-leading partnership with Rwanda will see those making dangerous, unnecessary and illegal journeys to the UK relocated there to have their claims considered and rebuild their lives.
“There is no one single solution to the global migration crisis, but doing nothing is not an option and this partnership will help break the business model of criminal gangs and prevent loss of life.
“Rwanda is a fundamentally safe and secure country with a track record of supporting asylum seekers and we are confident the agreement is fully compliant with all national and international law.”
A Clarence House spokesman said: “We would not comment on supposed anonymous private conversations with the Prince of Wales, except to restate that he remains politically neutral. Matters of policy are decisions for Government.”