For almost 62 years now, the Prince of Wales has been preparing for a job which he will one day inherit. With a tremendous amount of expectation on him and endless speculation about what his reign will be like, we are still very little the wiser after all this time over the Prince’s feelings towards the role what he will one day inevitably fulfil.
The inspiration for this piece came after doing some research on my article on how Prince Charles’s succession will work last week. After some thought on the matter, I began to wonder what it must be like to be in such a position as Prince Charles is, now the oldest male heir to the throne in British history.
It has been touched on occasionally by diarists and fed back to us all through alleged outspoken courtiers alike, though I always feel they malign him in their reports. They speak of a man desperate to be King and to radicalise the Monarchy under him, but the reality is very far from this.
The Prince of Wales doesn’t often give interviews, though it is from the rare occasions when he does and from numerous trustworthy sources that I have built up a truer picture of just why Prince Charles is much more than the mainstream media make him out to be.
To the Prince, it seems that becoming King is a duty more than something he’s longing for. Whilst Clarence House deny the claims that he thinks of becoming king as like a ‘prison’, the reasons for his anxiety of succession are a lot more complex. In an interview for an NBC TV show called ‘The Man Who Will Be King’ he described: “if it comes to it, regrettably it comes as a result of the death of your parent”.
It’s certainly not that he doesn’t want to become King, at least not based on previous comments, though there’s the prospect of having to give up his advocacy of climate change issues and other charitable causes close to him, which he has played down during interviews before but clearly weighs on him. It’s a well established constitutional fact that the Monarch must remain neutral in all matters – The Queen has managed this flawlessly, though will the Prince’s desire to help and promote change for the better cause issue with this?
Experience for the role is certainly not something Charles has to worry about. He has been in waiting longer than any other King in history and with him representing Her Majesty more, his transition to the throne won’t be as big a shock to the system in the same way that the death of George VI was, for example. The Royal Household are doing their best to try and create the smoothest transition possible, which so far they’re managing very effectively – popularity polls for the Prince are continually rising year on year and now, more people support Prince Charles becoming King after The Queen dies than Prince William – a big leap from what the results showed just a few years ago!
There’s also the issue of his wife. At the time of his marriage to the then Camilla Parker-Bowles in 2005, Clarence House said that upon the Prince of Wales’s accession to the throne, she would be known as HRH The Princess Consort, a title never before used in the British Monarchy and examples elsewhere in the world being hard to come by also.
Experts have denounced the claims that Camilla will be Princess Consort because of the automatic nature of succession to the crown. Immediately upon Charles’s succession, Camilla will assume the title of Her Majesty The Queen, an act of parliament would be needed to formally change her title to something else and surely no one would want to go through the embarrassment of painstakingly reducing Camilla’s title! The Prince of Wales has alluded to dropping this idea in interviews before.
Being King is certainly not an easy task. The level of change that comes with assuming the role is seemingly the key thoughts of the Prince of Wales on succession to the throne. As he has said in interviews: “it’s better not to think too much about it except, obviously, if it comes then you have to deal with it” – which I think sums it all up very well from the Prince’s perspective.
For now though, Her Majesty’s health looks stable and it’s unlikely we’ll see the Prince accede anytime soon – The Queen will, of course, likely never abdicate. Prince Charles himself has described how he feels he may never even become King, owing to the longevity of his mother, saying “It’s all in the providence of God. I may drop dead long before then!”