Charles III and the Challenges of an Unloved King
“The queen is dead! The subjects of the British crown, however, do not jubilate by hanging « Long live the king! » « . Perhaps there has never been, in all of British history, a prince so ready to wear the crown as Charles. Conversely, the new king may also be the one the subjects least want to see on the throne.
“Public opinion is indifferent to him. It’s like a supporting actor, believes Diane Pacom, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Ottawa. He is a featureless stooge. What we remember about him is above all the debacle of his marriage, the problems, the shame. »
At 73, Charles III takes the reins of the British monarchy with a personal reputation splashed by scandals. In recent years, his son Harry has left the bosom of Buckingham, not without tarnishing the Windsor clan by alleging the racism of some of its members against his American and Métis wife.
His brother, Prince Andrew, also soiled the fine clothes of royalty by clumsily disentangling himself from his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, convicted of a sordid history of sex crimes involving children before taking his own life in prison.
Yet it is his own past that risks catching up with him in the early stages of his reign. “His life and his troubles in the 1990s will undoubtedly come back to haunt him,” believes Joe Little, editor of the Majesty Magazine from London. First tarnished by his separation from Lady Di in 1992, then by the revelation of his adulterous relationship with Camilla Shand in 1996, Charles finds, even today, little grace in the eyes of public opinion. “Twenty-five years after Diana’s death, many believe he and Camilla contributed to her tragic passing. »
The British monarchy no longer has the presence of yesteryear, notes Mr. Little. « It has now become a soap opera. At the beginning of her reign, the young Elizabeth II enjoyed the empathy of the whole world. Today, Charles takes power at almost 74, when respect for the monarchy has largely disappeared. »
The late queen, « by her dignified attitude, made it possible to forget the scandals of the royal family », underlines Samir Saul, professor in the history department of the University of Montreal. His son, now king, will be unable to play this role.
“To have moral authority, a monarch must enjoy a certain affection among the people. For Charles, continues the professor, this affection does not exist. I would even say that it starts with a negative in this regard. »
Reign in instability
Charles III takes the keys to Buckingham when his kingdom is going through major turbulence. « Galloping inflation, looming unemployment, social crisis that threatens to explode at any moment »: the list of British setbacks drawn up by Samir Saul is long. “Not to mention the war in Ukraine which is destabilizing Europe! added the professor.
It is in this context that a new king ascends to the head of the royal institution – and that a new prime minister, Liz Truss, takes in hand the destiny of Great Britain. The fortune of Charles III will largely depend, according to Mr. Saul, on the decisions taken by this so-called very right-wing lady, inspired by Margaret Thatcher and warmonger.
« She is the one who manages and she must now manage the unmanageable », notes the professor from the University of Montreal. Autumn, according to him, is already shaping up to be “difficult and dangerous” for the British.
In a situation where the royal family is losing luster, where the venerable queen is no more and where her son cannot aspire to the prestige of his mother because of a life spread out at full pages in the gossip press and romanticized at will — and not always in a flattering way — by hugely popular series like The Crownit is likely that the kingdom which Charles III inherits today will be considerably diminished when he cedes the crown.
“In five or ten years, it is possible that countries like Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica or even Canada will decide to rethink the situation at the head of their country, analyzes Joe Little, of the Majesty Magazine.
« It would be a consequence of the weakness of his moral authority », asserts Samir Saul.
Equally lapidary, Diane Pacom believes that Charles III can only mimic his mother. “With the death of Elizabeth II, another light of the world is extinguished. Her son will never shine as brightly as her, she concludes. It is unthinkable! »
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