Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Can Prince Charles handle becoming King?

Periodically you will see a variation of this question in media articles, usually when there's no news to report. However, by asking this question I'm not trying to follow the crowd.

I hope that the Queen will live a long time because I'm not sure that Prince Charles is up to the task. Let me clarify this. The Queen sets a good example of staying above the fray when it comes to political issues and controversial topics. Prince Charles on the other hand, does not. According to his official site, he actually sees his role as being able to highlight today's issues, bringing them to the forefront.

'And being Prince of Wales produces more freedom now, and being King would be a little bit more suffocating. And because I know the character I would think that the top job, as I call it, would bring enormous limitations to him, and I don't know whether he could adapt to that. ' Diana, Princess of Wales Panorama Interview

Note that when Diana said, in her much quoted Panorama interview, she hit the nail on the head. Many saw this as evidence that Charles should not become king. But it was true then as it is true now. Will Charles be able to reign in his tendency to wade in to the fray? Remain strictly neutral with political matters, as the sovereigns role clearly demands and requires?

In his time as Prince of Wales, Charles has spearheaded many initiatives and been a catalyst for change. On the other hand, he has also caused a ruckus with his comments. A rather notable example of this is his speech criticizing architectural changes to historical buildings. Can you imagine the queen doing this?

His father Prince Philip is no stranger to saying controversial things. Maybe Prince Charles is more like his father than he realizes. But unlike his father, he was born to become king. His role, like his father, is undefined. In a sense, it's what you make of it. As consort to the Queen, Prince Philip has a certain freedom in his actions. Where what he says or does ultimately has no bearing on the future of the nation. Prince Charles as monarch, taking a stand, could be seen to confer an unfair advantage on the issue he takes the side of. While it is nothing new to hear political figures do this during elections to win votes, Charles is not running for office or trying to gain popularity. He has a captive audience; albeit one whose loyalty seems to diminish each year.

After all of these years could we accept a monarch's change of style? Does limiting his natural outspoken tendencies adhere to a tradition that is antiquated? Most monarchs have followed the traditional script. The last monarch to want change was King Edward VIII when during a visit to depressed Coal mining villages in Wales he said, "something must be done." While possibly feeling for the cause he stopped short of doing anything. Had he not abdicated it's interesting to ponder just how he might have changed things. Would the monarchy be different from what we know it today?

Will Prince Charles go with the traditional script as those before him? Does he have a choice?

Time will tell.

© Marilyn Braun 2007


Anonymous said...

Well Marilyn,I'm glad that you have brought this topic up. I have no doubt that The Prince of Wales will be a good King. I also have no doubt that he will lead from the example of Her Majesty but will bring fresh air to the Monarchy just as William will do. I really like that quote from the late Princess of Wales because people are thinking that she was hitting him below the belt but she was really showing some concern for him. She knew how much good work he has done and how he has mixed the old world with the new and being King could limit his abilities. But I do believe that he has passed down some knowledge to William & Harry who will help carry on his work as well Diana's. People are very use to the presence of Her Majesty and how she is very dedicated to her role as Monarch but there a time and season for everything but I'm sure her example will not fade with her passing. What do you think Marilyn?

Mary B said...

It seems that anyone with a platform today feels that they must accomplish some sort of change. Everyone wants to have their say on political issues, from popstars to Prince Charles.

This is my first visit and the Absolute Write Blitz brought me here, but I'll be back. The royal links to the right are interesting.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the question will be moot, and the role and responsibility will go straight to William.

MRasey said...

Well that's the main problem with royalty,no? It's not a merit system but a genetic one.


Anonymous said...

I think that a worthwhile comparison can be drawn between Prince Charles and King Edward VII — Queen Victoria's son. Edward VII spent even longer than Charles has as the heir to the throne, and actually was a bit of a reformer when he actually because king (modernization and reform of the English military was his pet project). There were a number of fears that Edward VII wouldn't be able to adjust to the change between the roles of prince and king, but he managed. Prince Charles will manage as well, I think.

Rebecca Laffar-Smith said...

I'd actually prefer to see Prince Charles abdicate in favor of his son William. William may be young but he's grown to be a captivating and strong-minded young man. With the tempering of age I think he'll be a very good King.

Prince Charles will more likely feel smothered by the role and silence his opinions because of traditional 'above the fray' associations. I think the Queen's disassociation creates a distance with her people that discredits the average man/woman. I know I've always felt beneath her feet and I think it's important for a monarch to be connected to his/her people. I can see William connecting and I can see Charles disconnecting.

Of course, we'll never really know what they'd be like as Kings until they're giving a chance. The fires of experience will set them in their direction. Ultimately, they've been raised to the role and will do it passibly. It would just be a shame to see Prince Charles passion smoldering instead of blazing while William blazes in the shadow of his father.

Melanie Hooyenga said...

This is a very interesting discussion. As an American, the idea of a king is very foreign, but it seems to me that a new outlook on things might be a good thing. I'm not a particular fan of Prince Charles, but I feel he deserves the chance to rule.

I think William seems more suited to the role, for many of the reasons stated here, and he will have his opportunity in time. His connection to the people will only grow stronger over time.

Kate Boddie said...

Like Melanie, I'm an American as well and I'm not as up to speed on the concept of a monarchy but the notion of change is something that, regardless of the position, one can't help. It's not the same person taking another's place. They're not standing in the same shoes but the same footprints in their own pair of Keds. I think it's time to step beyond the archaic notion of royalty and their minions and blend the two a little. WOuld Britain crumble if Charles, as a kind, took a stand on something? He has a voice just like the rest of the people he rules over and thus should be entitled to the same luxuries of speech as they are. I see nothing wrong with that.

VirtualWordsmith said...

I think he's as qualified and capable as anyone at this point.

Rebecca Laffar-Smith said...

@ Kate: I agree that a King even more particularly should have the freedom to use his voice and 'take a stand' but I don't know if Charles could do this. I know William could which is why I'd rather see him on the throne.

I'm concerned that if Charles became King he would temper down to suit the archaic historical role, rather than using his position as a respected power-head to affect the changes he believes are right for his people.

It is an interesting topic. I'm Australian so a little further removed from the situation but still concerned since England-Australia ties mean who is on the throne affects us directly.

Ella said...

I think Diana would want William to be able to enjoy his life as much as possible before he becomes King. For that reason, I hope he's allowed to do that,and I don't think Charles would muck it up too much.

Anonymous said...

OK.. so.. I'll admit it.. I'm a clueless American who can't quite wrap my brain around the whole King/Queen thing. But.. I am also a girl who fell in love with Princess Diana and felt that she was not treated well by the royal family. So.. consequently, I can't stand Prince Charles. I'd love to see the throne pass right by him and go to William.

Of course, this is said with absolutely NO KNOWLEDGE of whether Charles could handle the throne. I say it only because I don't like him. HA!! It is amazing how even from the grave, Diana affects how some of us view the royals.

Elrena said...

Wow, what interesting thoughts! It's always fun to stop by this blog, knowing as much as I do about royalty (ie nothing :) ).

Thanks for an informative post!

Anonymous said...

I'm Canadian, so growing up with a king or queen for monarchy is not entirely strange, yet as a colony, we're disconnected in a very large sense. I have no idea how the government structure works in the UK and how much power the Queen has now and how much Charles will have should he gain the throne, but I certainly get the impression that most of their power has been given to parliament over the years.

Which all leads to my question... How much damage can he really do if he's that bad? How much will it really matter?

Virginia Lee said...

I find it fascinating that Diana said that about Charles. I have never thought he was king material, but that was always a gut reaction. It's interesting to find that others have a similar reaction.