He was Prince of Wales for 63 years. Now – at the age of 73 – Prince Charles is the oldest heir to the British throne, which he assumed as King Charles III. mounts.
“The transition is well planned – as is Queen Elizabeth’s funeral,” Robert Hazell, political scientist at University College London, wrote to Deutsche Welle when asked. “However, much will depend on how the public will react to Charles’ coronation and what the level of government support is.”
Prince Charles has had plenty of time to adjust to life in the spotlight. In 1970 he received a bachelor’s degree in history from Trinity College, Cambridge. He then went on to a military career – among other things he commanded the minesweeper HMS Bronington.
In the summer of 1981, to huge media hype, he married 20-year-old Diana Spencer. Princess Diana was extremely popular, but she was also under constant tabloid scrutiny. Eventually, the two divorced in 1996. A year later, Diana died in a spectacular car accident.
Charles is said to have said to Diana during the separation: “Do you seriously expect me to be the first Prince of Wales who has no mistress?” Camilla Parker Bowles had long been his lover – in 2005 he was finally able to marry her.
And so there are the two sides of Charles: here the womanizer and there the philanthropist. In addition to the so-called “Prince’s Trust”, a charity founded by Charles in 1976 to support disadvantaged young people and young adults, he also supports art initiatives, among other things.
However, Charles’ greatest passion is protecting the environment and fighting climate change. He has been involved in a rainforest project since 2007. He brought companies, politicians and various celebrities on board to raise awareness of the cause of taking action against deforestation in the tropics.
As king, Charles will likely continue to advocate for religious diversity and a multicultural, modern Britain. He had announced in advance that his coronation would be a multi-faith event.
However, Charles lacks his mother’s instincts. He can rarely remain impartial on political or social issues. In the past, he did not hold back his views.
His lack of neutrality was evident in the affair surrounding the so-called “Black Spider” memos. The Guardian newspaper had published these notes; they showed how Charles tried to influence members of the government and other politicians.
The topics discussed were as diverse as saving endangered fish, ordering military equipment for troops in Iraq, or culling badgers to stop cattle tuberculosis from spreading further. The publication resulted in a long legal battle.
As king, Charles will have to curb such tendencies, says political scientist Hazell. “The monarch must be unconditionally neutral on all political issues, as the Queen has done. Charles will have an opportunity to share his views during his weekly audience with the Prime Minister. But he will have to respect his constitutional rights: to be consulted, to encourage and to warn.” Otherwise, Hazel expects, “the government will remind him of the duties of a constitutional monarch.”
In 2017, Charles Name appeared in the so-called “Paradise Papers”. A data leak that revealed the names of politicians, entrepreneurs and celebrities making shady offshore investments. In his case, it is said to have been a company operated in Bermuda.
Accordingly, Charles is said to have pushed for changes in climate policy in 2007, but did not reveal that he would benefit from these changes through his foreign business. For his part, Charles said he was not directly involved in the offshore account.
More recently, new questions have surfaced over further revelations in the royal ‘cash scandal’. It is alleged that wealthy foreigners received benefits in exchange for their donations to the Prince’s Foundation, which Charles established.
One is about a Saudi tycoon who was knighted for his services, and another is about a Russian banker being promised a meeting with Charles.
The revelations have led to the resignations of three key employees at the charity, including Charles’ close associate Michael Fawcett. The chairman of the board of the foundation has initially resigned “temporarily”. Charles himself has denied any knowledge of the alleged practices.
Observers agree that Charles must avoid such incidents if, as king, he wants to get public opinion on his side. Or as the political scientist Hazell puts it: The level of acceptance for Charles and how popular he will be depends on “whether Charles gets into trouble and what unforeseen events will occur”.
Autor: Robert Mudge
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The original of this post “As king, Charles III will have to rein himself in” comes from Deutsche Welle.