The Prince of Wales is backing the Chief Inspector of Schools, Mr Chris Woodhead, who is facing calls to resign over allegations that he had an affair with a pupil.
He has written a supportive letter and entertained the chief inspector at a private dinner at St James's Palace after the latest allegations emerged.
It is well-known that the Prince is an admirer of Mr Woodhead and his ideas on teaching. They have met on several occasions, including educational functions that the Prince has hosted.
The beleaguered inspector is facing calls for an official investigation into alleged perjury over his affair with a girl who was his sixth-form pupil 23 years ago.
The Government has so far resisted pressure to order a full inquiry into claims that Mr Woodhead had an affair with the girl while he was teaching English at a school near Bristol.
The allegations made by Ms Cathy Woodhead, his former wife, and supported by some teachers who were colleagues of Mr Woodhead, have been strongly denied by him.
Last week, the National Association of Head Teachers decided to ask the director of public prosecutions to investigate the alleged perjury.
Downing Street was unable to comment on reports that the Prince had contacted Prime Minister Mr Tony Blair, another strong supporter of Mr Woodhead, to express his concern.
A spokesman for St James's Palace said: "We would not comment on any private correspondence, if indeed there had been any."
Prince Charles is known to feel strongly about educational reform and the need to banish "trendy" teaching methods. …