Long in queen’s shadow, Charles takes greater public role
Long in queen’s shadow, Charles takes greater public role
No one knows this better than Queen Elizabeth II, who, after 70 years on the throne, shows no indications of stepping down. The ageing monarch, on the other hand, is giving Prince Charles a larger role and delegating greater tasks to her eldest son and heir
That was evident last month when Charles, 73, presided over the State Opening of Parliament with his wife, Camilla, one of the monarch's most significant tasks
The minor shift highlights the royal family's struggles as the 96-year-old queen continues on the throne while Charles becomes the monarchy's increasingly visible face. The royals are working to solidify the position of a sometimes misunderstood heir and establish that the House of Windsor will carry on as Britain celebrates the queen's Platinum Jubilee this week.
"When it comes to the monarchy, Charles and Camilla are a question mark," said Robert Lacey, a royal historian and adviser on the Netflix series "The Crown." "However, we are no longer in the position we believed we were in 20 years ago, when the idea of Charles ascending to the throne appeared to be a huge problem. And I believe it is fair to say that the monarchy currently has more horsepower riding on British sympathies than it has had in many decades."
Much of this is because to Elizabeth, who promised to serve Britain and the Commonwealth for the rest of her life on her 21st birthday. The queen has made it clear that she intends to keep her word.
However, her transportation issues force her to be more selective in her public appearances, opening the path for Charles, who has spent the past three decades attempting to overcome the damage from his tumultuous divorce from the very popular Princess Diana.
Many in Britain needed years to forgive Charles after his apparent infidelity and long-standing ties to Camilla jeopardised his relationship with Diana, dubbed "the People's Princess" for her ability to connect with the public in a way her husband could not. In 1997, five years after her divorce from Prince Charles, the gorgeous young mother of Prince William and Prince Harry died in a Paris vehicle accident.
However, since Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005, the public mood has mellowed.
Camilla, now known as the Duchess of Cornwall, has worked with over 100 charities, encouraging reading, supporting victims of domestic violence, assisting the elderly, and other causes.
She soon won over many Britons with her down-to-earth demeanour and sense of humour. As he cut ribbons, revealed plaques, and went about the often mundane responsibilities of royal duty, her friendliness lightened Charles' stiff reputation and made him appear more relaxed, if not happy.
The queen bolstered the couple's position earlier this year by expressing her "sincere wish" for Camilla to be known as "Queen Consort" when Charles becomes king. With the stroke of a pen, Elizabeth refuted claims that the relationship's history should degrade Camilla to a lower rank, changing her from home-wrecker to potential consort.
Meanwhile, Charles has been prepared to step in whenever necessary, most notably when he presided over the opening of Parliament and gave the Queen's Speech, which outlined the government's legislative agenda.
The ceremony is accompanied with traditions and pomp handed down through the ages to highlight the power of Britain's political institutions, and it is a symbol of the monarch's constitutional duty as the country's head of state.
The day's choreography emphasised a queen who was both present and absent. Her throne was taken away, but the Imperial State Crown was propped up on a pillow in its stead. Instead of sweeping ermine robes, Charles wore the uniform of a fleet admiral.
Robert Hardman, author of "Queen of Our Times: The Life of Elizabeth II," remarked, "Prince Charles is the longest-serving heir we've ever had." "He's there," says the narrator. If the queen is unable to attend, he is on standby to assist with whatever is required. But, you know, she swore that she would reign for the rest of her life. And she sees it that way."
Charles' passions are well known because he has been waiting in the wings for so long.
He began advocating for environmental reasons, for example, long before they were mainstream concerns. He's been accused of interfering in politics, something the monarch is prohibited from doing, by speaking out against land developments and other issues.
During a recent trip to Canada, Obama addressed a contentious matter, noting Indigenous people' "pain and sorrow" as a result of their children being taken away and abused at state-run residential schools.
It's possible that this is the form of things to come.
Charles, according to Emily Nash, royal editor of HELLO! magazine, is engaged with people all around the world, especially on the issue of climate change.
Nash explained, "This is very much about working together to try to improve things for future generations." "And it's something Prince Charles is quite enthusiastic about."
If the monarchy is to remain relevant in the future, Tiwa Adebayo, a 23-year-old journalist and blogger, believes the royals must be more vocal about issues like these, speaking out on matters like inequality and immigration. She identified the Dutch royals as a prospective role model.
"I believe that is the type of monarchy we desire," she stated. "And so this not getting involved in politics but being involved in politics, not getting too involved in societal concerns but speaking when it's opportune, I don't believe that's going to fly anymore."
For the time being, Charles has realised that he can be a little less uptight in public — even more approachable. A special jubilee appearance on a television soap opera is a perfect example of this.
On the long-running BBC soap EastEnders, Charles and Camilla will surprise locals at a street party to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. "You have got to see this mystery guest," partygoers are told in a footage played after a recent programme, before the royal couple pulls up in a car beside The Queen Vic bar.
Surprise, surprise, surprise.