The challenges facing Charles and William in their new roles
Under the invasive and unforgiving eyes of the world’s television cameras, and a couple of minor displays of petulance aside, King Charles III negotiated the immensely challenging and highly emotional period between the passing of her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and her funeral, with grace and dignity. And in the circumstances, those small displays of ill-temper – both when he was attempting to sign documents of state – were entirely forgivable. He may be our new king, but he’d just lost his much-loved mum. So, through incredibly trying moments, and mostly in full public view, His Majesty made an admirable and well-received start to his reign. But what next? Will Charles III be the continuity king or a meddling monarch? Ascending the throne at the age of 73 assures that his reign will never compare to his mother’s in terms of longevity. But he knows that the UK and Commonwealth has already moved on from what became known as the “New Elizabethan Age”, and that however long his time in the top job lasts, if the monarchy is to survive and thrive through the twenty-first century and beyond, he must instigate and where possible, see through, important changes. Where, then, does the new king begin and what should be his priorities?
King Charles III has already indicated that he favours a slimmed-down monarchy, which in the main is likely to find favour with his subjects. Huge displays of public support and love for the Royal Family were clearly evident after Queen Elizabeth’s passing, but there are republican voices and sentiments out there too – though they were little seen or heard during that period. And even the staunchest of royalists are not immune from the current cost-of-living crisis, which is unlikely to end in the near future, so many will welcome cutbacks on the spending of public money on barely recognised royals. And talking of money, Charles III, already incredibly wealthy, has inherited hundreds of millions from Queen Elizabeth. He will pay zero tax on that inheritance, whereas the rest of us would pay 40 per cent. Might the offer of a voluntary contribution to the nation’s tax coffers cheer his hard-up subjects? Then there’s all that real-estate, the numerous palaces, castles and other homes. Does he really need them all? He’s reckoned to hate Buckingham Palace, apparently all the royals do. Its only publicly significant function is for those balcony photoshoots on royal occasions, and they’ll never seem the same without the late Queen centre stage – or balcony. So, what to do with it?
Pull it down and rebuild? One of Charles’ main interests is architecture; why not oversee the creation of a new purpose built, royal mews housing complex for London’s most needy? What a legacy. Then there’s the environment, another cause close to the King’s heart. How can he help most? He’ll certainly want to. Then of course, looming large, is the massive question of the potential break-up of the Commonwealth? So much to do, and so little time.