Home » World » What kind of King will Prince Charles be? Royal tour offers hints – World news

What kind of King will Prince Charles be? Royal tour offers hints – World news

What kind of King will Prince Charles be? Royal tour offers hints – World news


The Canadian royal visit of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall seemed to have higher stakes than the prince’s 18 previous visits to this country. In an environment where there is increased questioning of institutions like the monarchy, given its long history and colonial baggage, along with a national mood which has seen unprecedented protests in Ottawa in the past few months, it was not clear how warm the reception or successful this visit might be. Negative headlines from visits by other members of the Royal Family in the Caribbean were also in the background.


The visit also took place at a time when many are starting to view Prince Charles differently, given that his destiny to be King seems to loom closer. The Queen herself remarked in a recent video that “no one lives forever,” and this has seemed to permit discussion about the future monarchy. As Prince Charles has increasingly deputized for the mobility-restricted Queen at high-profile state occasions, it eases the inevitable transition and provides the public an opportunity to visualize him in the role for the first time. Those who gathered during the stops of the Canadian tour had a sense that they were seeing a future King.


While the public can now start to imagine the Prince of Wales as King, many wonder just what type of King he might be. In the past years, there has been a lot of speculation as to how political a monarch Prince Charles could be, in comparison to the approach taken by the Queen who has been scrupulous to mask her opinion – something which has proven to be part of the success of her record-setting reign.


For starters, it appears that Charles may reign over a smaller number of realms, with the eight countries in the Caribbean actively looking at constitutional change. Although they will require referenda, which have tended to support the status quo in most countries to date, it is likely that Charles will serve as a shared sovereign of fewer countries in his time. Even in Canada, where support for constitutional monarchy softens considerably when placed in the context of a new reign, there are calls for change. However, the constitutional bar for a change in the arrangements for Canada’s head of state are extremely high and an alternative does not appear to be on the horizon.


In 2018, the Queen settled the matter of Charles’ position as head of the Commonwealth upon his accession. Like his parents, the Commonwealth has been an important priority throughout his time as the Prince of Wales and there is every indication that this will continue, even as more countries become Republics. Like his mother, who during her reign has seen over 34 nations transition to Republic status, most recently Barbados, Prince Charles will wish them well and continue to have a relationship with them, although he will visit them less frequently.


Along with fewer realms, his desire for a slimmed down monarchy appears to be coming to fruition earlier than — and more directly — that he might have anticipated. The departure of popular members of the Royal Family (Harry and Meghan), along with others whose conduct was called into question (Prince Andrew), as well as his ageing cousins (the Kent’s), means that Charles will be supported in his role as King by far fewer working members of the family. While the realms may be fewer, there will also be fewer hands on deck to support charities, the military, traditional ceremonies, as well as the expectation of visibility throughout the 54 nation Commonwealth.


Prince Charles has often mused about the title of “Defender of the Faith.” For many years, he has engaged in extensive dialogue with major world religions. It is likely this will be an important part of his role as he sees it in the future; to promote interfaith understanding in a new way. He has developed solid relationships with leaders of the Jewish faith, as well as Catholics and Hindus, and is a stalwart friend of the Muslim community in the U.K. and elsewhere.


Unlike his mother, Prince Charles will come to the throne in his 70s, with a well-established public record about what he believes and what he has done over the course of his long apprenticeship. Indeed, it will be his time as Prince of Wales which will be his most consequential to public life. While most are familiar with the work of his various trusts and charities in areas, including the environment, opportunities for youth, education, art, health, traditional architecture and sustainability, it is unlikely that these causes will be taken up by Prince William. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have their own charitable foundation, and their interests are likely to be more focused rather than the many which his father concentrated on in more than 50 years as heir to the throne. Charities created by the Prince of Wales will have to stand on their own feet, without a direct Royal patron, or be wound up. As King, Charles will not be able to develop the time and attention to them.

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With a smaller a family and an older one at that, extensive travel as we saw the Queen and Prince Philip undertake will not be possible for too many years into the next reign. The pandemic has demonstrated how the Royal Family can interact with people in the virtual space and this is likely to increase as a smaller and less travelling Royal Family will find this as one of the only means of connecting, particularly in a country the size of Canada.


As King, Charles will also likely undertake duties in a more informal and less scripted fashion. His visit to Canada this past week placed him and the Duchess in situations where they interacted with good humour and as good sports in situations with food and drink, as well as in meeting people in an unscripted way. Prince Charles does not keep to a tight schedule, with most days on this tour ending almost an hour behind schedule as he took the time to speak to people and understand the experiences of the Ukrainian community and those who sought refuge in Canada from Afghanistan, as well as most importantly with Indigenous peoples on their land and their leaders. While the Queen’s engagements tended to go like clockwork, for Prince Charles, the timings are a rough guess!


The media and others wonder whether Prince Charles will be able to leave behind a life of activism, coaxing and cajoling the public, as well as political leaders, into action on various issues where he has found gaps and he finds government response is lacking. The Prince is acutely aware that the success of the Queen’s reign has been due to her scrupulous and careful staying above the fray of government policy and partisan politics. In the future and as this draws closer, he is likely to modify his approach to more behind-the-scenes and will be at pains to demonstrate his constitutional neutrality after a lifetime of establishing programs and responses to what people tell him and what he sees in his worldwide travels.


As political leaders step up, it is not always possible to anticipate how they will perform, nor how the public will respond when they occupy a different chair. While he has been the longest serving and most consequential Prince of Wales, more than anyone, he will recognize the change that succeeding to the throne will require. But he is unlikely to check the compassion and empathy that he has shown to so many people and many issues, and is likely speak in a more forthright and direct manner than the Queen has done. The speeches in Canada indicate that will be the case, particularly at the end of the visit in the N.W.T. where he spoke longer than anticipated recounting what he had seen, particularly with the environment and Indigenous traditional knowledge.


One of the key factors in the future reign will be the role of Prince William. Prince Charles will need the support of his wife and the small family now around him – his siblings and son – to fill the large gap which will be created. But it will be a transition reign of further downsizing and adjustment to the age in which we live. At the conclusion of his visit to the Bahamas, Prince William noted the role is about serving and supporting in whatever way the people think best in using the platform the Royal Family is lucky to have, and that the future is for the people to decide.


Given the ambitious Canadian tour this past week and the many issues it addressed, it is clear the future reign will be an active and engaged one, but different in ways we both can and yet cannot anticipate.

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