Prince Charles on the cover of the Nov. 4 Time magazine. (Photo: Time/Handout/AFP PHOTO)
Will becoming king feel like a prison sentence to Prince Charles?
Or was it just a comment taken out of context?
Seems to be the latter.
Prince Charles’ aides are flat out denying a report in Time magazine where a source tells a reporter he worries he won’t be able to complete some of his goals before his mother dies and the “prison shades” close.
“This is not the Prince of Wales’s view and should not be attributed to him as he did not say these words,” a spokesman for Charles’s office Clarence House said in a statement.
“The prince has dutifully supported the Queen all his life and his official duties and charitable work have always run in parallel.”
But even the journalist who wrote the article said that’s not what the person meant, and other media outlets have run with the out-of-context quote.
Reporter Catherine Mayer told the BBC the comment was about staff members who think as Prince Charles takes on more of his mother’s duties, his other interests will fall to the wayside.
“There’s a big impact on what the Prince of Wales actually does already, in terms of time, so the reference was to his dwindling lack of time”.
She added: “He is absolutely not saying he doesn’t want to be king and nobody in his household is saying that.”
But, one can’t help but wonder if Prince Charles does kind of view his next roll – whenever it might come about – as being more of a chore.
For years, the 65-year-old has done as he has pleased, in that, he has started charities, he has spoken out about environmental issues near and dear to him, worked on documentaries, and volunteered his time as he saw fit. Sure, there will always be some royal duties – the occasional overseas visit – but for the most part, he could do whatever he wanted.
But when he does become king, Charles will have to take on new duties, and ones he might not like or care for. And he’ll be doing it at an age most people are retiring.
Now, you might say, the poor rich man, has to do all this work in his old age all because he was born into a place of privilege. Poor, poor him. (You, of course, would be saying this sarcastically.)
Why does he not just give up? Why become king at all? Why not step aside and let William become king? Or, for the anti-monarchists out there (who for some bizarre reason read and comment on this blog), why not dissolve the monarchy altogether?
Prince Charles doesn’t give up because it’s not in his nature. He’s a fighter, and he’s also done a lot of work over the years to learn what it will mean to rule. And that means not keeping a stiff upper lip as he did for years – in fact, it’s the exact opposite. He has softened because he has realized the people of the Commonwealth don’t want a leader they can’t relate to. So he has taken to cracking jokes, going on air to give the weather, DJing in Toronto and smiling at times while the media is present.
Prince Charles will become king because it was what he was born to do. There is no reason for him not to become king. And it’s something he wants to do, if not because he cares about the countries and their citizens in the Commonwealth, but because he might also see this as a chance to get his word out about those causes he holds so dear, such as the environment.
He will not step aside to let William become king for two reasons: 1. He is a traditionalist who would not break with the rules and 2. He wants to protect William from that world for a few more years. While there’s no doubt Prince Charles wants to become king, there’s also no question he sees how popular his son is around the world. But, he also knows William is nowhere near ready to rule. William needs some time to grow, learn what it will mean to be king. Sure, the tours are fun for William, but we have heard more than once that he resents his lot in life and wishes he could do anything he wanted.
William may be popular, but that does not mean he’s ready to be king.
Prince Charles reacts to a comment as he meets guests during a reception in Clarence House on Oct. 24. (Photo: Leon Neal/AFP)
And why wouldn’t Prince Charles abolish the monarchy? Because doing so would cause big problems in the Commonwealth, including here in Canada. The way our system works would have to be revamped entirely. And while easy to say, it is far from easy to do.
Plus, the monarchy does some good work beyond just being a lovely tradition. The members of the royal family may not work traditional jobs, but they volunteer their time to causes, bringing attention to charities and events. Their royal tours are often good for businesses and tourism where they visit.
Some people have said I am envious of the position members of the royal family are in. In some ways, sure, that’s true. Who wouldn’t want to have all the money they need, live in a giant house with people to clean your toilets and make your food, travel at the drop of a hat, and volunteer with whatever charities you’d like? Sounds pretty awesome.
But there’s the downside. The constant attention of the media is not something to be taken lightly. There are the critics who are always waiting for that one slip (such as this one – which had some anti-monarchists calling Charles “self-obsessed”). There’s the fact your entire life is basically planned for you and have no free will to make decisions about your future.
In a way, the prison allusion is not far off, in that it’s something he can’t really escape. Prince Charles will be expected to drop everything when he becomes king – and that could mean some of the things he’s passionate about.
But this is a man who has made major changes in the past decade to be able to connect with people. There is no doubt he will continue to do so, and when he becomes king, could be just as likeable as his mother. He will strive to bring environmental issues to the forefront, and will understand his voice needs to be heard on important issues.
If anything, having to wait this long will actually make Prince Charles a better king – and everyone in the Commonwealth should be happier for it.