What kind of monarch will Prince Charles be?

RENDEZVIEW: The relationship the public has long had with Charles is one more of tolerances rather than love or respect. But as the reality of him one day becoming king nears, it's time to consider what lies ahead, writes Alana Schetzer.

Prince Charles has had many identities over the years - shy, gawky heir to the throne, eligible bachelor, Prince Charming (upon his marriage to the late Diana, Princess of Wales), cheating chad (upon his split from Diana), rule-breaker (a divorcee marrying fellow divorcee, Camilla) and currently, contented grandfather.

But which of these identities will be adopted when he is crowned with St Edward's Crown?

A quick look at his historic namesakes raise some interesting possibilities.

England - before it united with Scotland in 1707 - had two King Charles I and II, a father and son pair whose contributions are more riveting than any episode of Game of Thrones ever could be.

Prince Charles has known of his destiny since he was a young boy. Picture: supplied
Prince Charles has known of his destiny since he was a young boy. Picture: supplied

Charles I, who inherited the crown in 1625 and who believed irrevocably that he was God's anointed representative on Earth, brought the country to its knees after refusing to consult with parliament. Civil war broke out, Charles was tried for treason, had his head cut off and the monarchy was abolished.

But that didn't last and his son, Charles II - who arguably had the most luscious hair of any king - was invited to be king in a new monarchy 10 years later. He was a marked improvement on his father in that he didn't plunge the country into war.

Instead of making war, he made love - a lot. Charles II has gone down in history as one of the most promiscuous kings in the world, fathering at least 14 illegitimate children with at least six different women.

Following in the footsteps of his ghastly namesakes isn't the most encouraging omen, but it's a safe bet that Prince Charles' reign will be free of his being beheaded or fathering a few dozen kids.

He may not even be King Charles III at all. Britain's monarchs can choose their crown name, which isn't always the same as their legal name. Queen Elizabeth's father, George VI, was actually named Albert and the mighty Queen Victoria was born Alexandrina.

Whatever his crown name, we know that Charles is going to use his heightened position to promote his passion for the environment and agriculture, young people and architecture. And while they are all admirable causes, his interest in them as sovereign could cause problems.

He regularly writes to government ministers - his letters have become known as 'black spider letters - with his thoughts and offering advice, although politicians have been careful to emphasis that the letters carry no orders or instructions.

Unlike his mother, whose political neutrality and diplomacy - and accompanying poker face - is one of the most respected hallmarks of her reign - Charles has let his thoughts and opinions be known.

Aware that there are concerns about his political interests, Charles said in a 2018 BBC documentary about his life that he wouldn't meddle in politics, adding that "I'm not that stupid".

"I do realise that it is a separate exercise being sovereign. So of course I understand entirely how that should operate."

But he also defended his work to date, which includes establishing 17 charities that raise more than £100 million annually.

"I always wonder what meddling is. I always thought it was motivating, but I've always been intrigued; if it's meddling to worry about the inner cities as I did 40 years ago … I'm very proud of it," he said.

A political monarch has the potential to cause embarrassment for the government of the day, not to mention mightily tick off the British public, but that politics is all bark, no bite, under the constitution. Plus, there is a distinction between Charles promoting his charitable, environmental and social causes and lobbying politicians about them.

Prince Charles is part of a much bigger family and history, but also his own man. Picture: supplied
Prince Charles is part of a much bigger family and history, but also his own man. Picture: supplied

A huge part of the queen's enormous popularity and respect is the emotional stability she represents as a figurehead who has remained constant and reassuring in a constantly changing world.

The relationship the public has long had with Charles, however, is one more of tolerances rather than love or respect. Public polls have consistently showed that the majority would prefer that his son Prince William inherit the throne immediately after his grandmother.

That's not going to happen - you don't spend 70 years training for a job only to hand it to someone else the moment it becomes vacant.

Charles's style on the throne will be quite different to that of his mother; and if he keeps his word to stay out of politics, that won't stop him from continuing to advocate for the causes he's spent his entire life fighting for. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Instead of being 'grandfather' of Britain, he might instead be its conscience.

As king, perhaps we'll see a seventh identity emerge - not the gawky youth of yesteryear nor the villain who broke Diana's heart - but as a figurehead who advocates for a cleaner and fairer world.

A flawed king for a flawed world. Maybe Charles will surprise us all.



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