Monday, June 25, 2007

Question: Is Prince Harry ready to rule?

Should Prince William not be able to fulfill his role as the King of England, what preparation has Prince Harry had that would qualify him to reign?

In the royal family, there is a precedent of the second son succeeding the throne. I'm sure there are lots of examples of this being so* but two men who immediately come to mind are King George V and his son, King George VI. Neither of these men expected, or likely anticipated that they would become kings.

The future King George V, Prince George, Duke of York, became heir to the throne after his older brother, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale died unexpectedly at the age of 28. Prince George had been pursuing a military career, which was regarded as the most suitable occupation for the second son. Prince Albert Victor, at the time of his death third-in-line for the throne, was to be married a month later to Princess May of Teck, but he died on January 14th, 1892. Prince George then became heir, and in time 'inherited' his brother's fiance, the future Queen Mary.

Unlike his future son, Prince Albert, King George V had plenty of time to adapt to his new role before he himself became king in 1910. His own father, King Edward VII, despite being the longest serving heir to the throne - 59 years, had little training himself, as his mother Queen Victoria didn't allow him access to her papers. Despite this, King Edward VII went on to become a successful monarch who gave his name to an era. During his reign, King Edward VII made certain that his son was well trained when the time came for him to succeed.

King George V had five sons and one daughter, Edward - Prince of Wales, Albert - Duke of York, Mary - Princess Royal, George - Duke of Kent, Henry - Duke of Gloucester, and John - who died as a child. Edward had been destined to be king from birth and he eventually would succeed the throne in 1936 upon the death of his father. However, Edward decided to abdicate to marry Wallis Simpson and his brother, Albert - who was seen as a rather unlikely candidate for the throne, became King George VI in the same year (incidently 1936 is known as the year of three kings). King George VI wasn't nearly as well trained as his father had been but he eventually became a good king. As the father of the present Queen, he ensured that she had the best possible training for her future role.

While it's hard to ignore precedent, I doubt that Prince Harry would have the same type of training. Is he qualified? Yes - from the moment of his birth. There really isn't anything that defines what criteria makes a good monarch. You'd be hard pressed to find a career counsellor who could tell you. Should something unfortunate happen to William, hopefully Harry will have plenty of time to adapt to his new role. He could have no better instructor than his grandmother.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

* if anyone knows of other examples, feel free to comment.


Anonymous said...

The role of the monarchy has changed so much in the last century - does this change the need for training or change the training that's needed? And what about regions where the monarchy has real power that's never actually exercised. Australia is one - technically the Queen is still our head of state - in reality, the last time the Governor-General did anything without the consent of the current Prime Minister was in the 1970s and the furor from that is *still* settling.

Marilyn Braun said...

I think it changes the training that's needed.

Charles/William/Harry, or whoever comes after The Queen is going to have a hard time filling her shoes, so to speak. She is someone who is very well respected - who many feel, hasn't put a foot wrong in all her time on the throne. Unlike the beginning of her reign, where deference was a given, today's future monarch cannot expect that.So while there may be training in Government and Constitutional matters, it will be just as important (maybe even more so) to keep tabs on the pulse of the public.

Prince Charles in particular will probably have a very hard time following his mother. While he's been ahead of his time in many respects, he's not nearly as well respected. He's also gotten used to being outspoken on a number of issues, something which he'll have to curb when he becomes sovereign.

I think people want a monarch who is not some remote figure on the coins. In many ways, Charles' awareness, his concern for the environment and for the needs of his future subjects, is something that you cannot really train someone in. But I think it will serve him in good stead. Hopefully William is taking notes!

Doug Skinner said...

The monarchy fascinates me...They hold the power without really holding the power...It is a level of respect that you will probably never see in America...Everyone is too selfish here.

Peggy K said...

It's not really clear to me what the role of the future king will be. Heck, it's not even clear to me what the role of the current Queen is. I know she travels around and makes appearances at public events, but that doesn't appear to require any special skills other than being able to smile when bored to tears.

Why should Charles curb his outspokenness when he becomes king (assuming he does)? Shouldn't part of his role be to say things others won't (or can't) say? or is it to be as bland and inoffensive as possible?

K.A. Stewart said...

I often wonder if, as an American, I'm not missing out on key elements when reading about the monarchy. It's just not a concept we're programmed for, here, and I doubt we even realize what a difference it makes in societal attitudes and customs.

Talia said...

Heaven help us if Harry takes the throne. At this point in time he's a lousy role model. I can not ever conceive of Harry being King.

Cath Smith said...

Back in the old days, Royalty were figureheads and policy makers. Now, they seem to be little more than a tourist attraction. Times change, I guess.

As a Brit, I don't really care whether it's Harry or Charles. Neither can live up to the monarchs of old.

Anonymous said...

I honestly feel sorry for anyone who would be crowned King in this day and age of paparazzi and tabloid excess. I don't think Ghandi could have stood up to the scrutiny.

It was amazing that Diana did so well, but her grace was almost transcendent. Unlike poor Fergie that was loved one day then vilified the next.