The Making of England’s oldest monarch: Will King Charles be able to match the popularity of Queen Elizabeth II? | The Financial Express

The Making of England’s oldest monarch: Will King Charles be able to match the popularity of Queen Elizabeth II?

According to historian Ed Owens, King Charles now finds himself in a position where he has to carefully project his image as a public figure

The Making of England’s oldest monarch: Will King Charles be able to match the popularity of Queen Elizabeth II?
In this Oct. 14, 2019 file photo, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, with Prince Charles, delivers the Queen's Speech at the official State Opening of Parliament in London. (Victoria Jones/Pool via AP, File)

As the world still mourns the death of the longest ruling monarch Queen Elizabeth, King Charles has ascended the throne, an act that he has been preparing for his entire life. The moment seems to have finally arrived for the erstwhile Duke of Cornwall, now the reigning King of the United Kingdom.

With this, Charles, now 73, is the oldest person to have ever become the king. No date has been finalised for his coronation as of yet. “The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family,” said Charles in an official statement.

Prince Charles and public perception: What is expected of him

Prince Charles is the embodiment of the British monarchy’s modernization. He was the first child not to be educated at home, and he was the first to graduate from a university. As the public’s deference to royalty diminished, he grew up with the media glare constantly on him.

Prince Charles had a messy divorce from much loved Princess Diana, and then filtered rules that didn’t allow royals to interfere in public affairs. He got himself more involved in debates on topics such as architectural preservation and environmental protection. According to historian Ed Owens, he now finds himself in a position where he has to carefully project his image as a public figure. His popularity is nowhere near his mother, who finds the historian of the modern British monarchy.

Also Read: Queen Elizabeth II Death Funeral Live Updates: King Charles III to address UK today; World leaders extend condolences

Ed Owen further illustrates to Associated Press that Prince Charles has to figure out how to generate the public support that his mother, Queen Elizabeth, had with the British public. As a boy who had a domineering father, he grew up to become a sometimes awkward and understated individual. But unlike the late queen, Charles openly discussed his views on issues like green energy, alternative medicine, and the kinds.

Nevertheless, his accession to the throne is likely to generate public debate on the future of the monarchy in Britain. Some see it as a symbol of national unity, while others consider it an obsolete relic of feudal history. Charles will be the head of state for the U.K. and 14 other countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea.

Coming back to meddling in public affairs and having a political voice, Owens points out that Charles has always defended his actions as a Prince but acknowledges as king he would not be able to participate in political debates as his role as the sovereign is different from that of the Prince of Wales.

Prince Charles has said that he wants to reduce the number of royals and cut down on expenses. However, tradition still matters, especially for a man who used to refer to the monarchy as the “centerpoint for national pride, unity, and allegiance.” That has led to criticism that he is out of touch with the modern world. For instance, he was reportedly mocked for having a housekeeper who claimed to have squeezed toothpaste onto his brush!

Divorce from his former wife, Princess Diana, made many wonders if he was fit to be king. Then, as he got older, his sons, Prince William and Prince Harry stole the limelight from him.

According to Biographer Sally Vendell Smith, Prince Charles has reportedly been frustrated by how he has been portrayed by the public. He has been caught between the world of his mother, who is regarded as a highly esteemed individual, and the debate around relations with his former wife, Diana, who gained much public support after Charles admitted to having an extramarital affair. It took several years for the public to forgive him for his actions.

The public’s mood started to change after Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles got married in 2005. Although Camilla was frowned upon by the public for playing a significant part in the couple’s divorce, her sense of humor and self-deprecation style won over many people in due course, the author of “Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life” said.

Through her warm and approachable demeanor, Camilla helped Charles smile more in public. He was able to cut ribbons and visit various places of worship, as well as unveil plaques and wait for the crown. Her service to the monarchy was rewarded in February when Queen Elizabeth II said that it was her wish to have Camilla referred to as “Queen Consort” after her son Prince William becomes king, indicating that she is now accepted by the Royal family.

All about King Charles from his childhood, derangement from Diana to becoming the oldest king of the UK

Prince Charles was born on November 14, 1948, at Buckingham Palace. When his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, acceded to the throne in 1952, he became the Duke of Cornwall. At the age of 20, he became the Prince of Wales. His school years were reportedly very unhappy, as he was constantly bullied by his peers at the Gordonstoun boarding school in Scotland.

Prince Charles studied at Cambridge University’s Trinity College. In 1970, he became the first member of the Royal Family to receive a university degree.

He started his military career as a pilot for the Royal Air Force. After seven years, he became a helicopter pilot for the Royal Navy. Charles’s relationship with Camillia started before he went to sea. Soon the couple broke up and she eventually married a cavalry officer.

He met Lady Diana Spencer when she was 16 years old. They started to date when she visited the royal family in 1980, and rumors about their engagement started to spread. In 1981, they got engaged. During an interview, a reporter asked Diana if she was in love, and she immediately answered ‘Yes.’ Charles though said, “Whatever ‘in love’ means.”

In 1992, three years after the interview, Diana said that the remark by Charles “threw me completely”. The couple got married on July 29, 1981, in a globally televised ceremony.

Prince William was born in less than a year followed by his brother, Prince Harry in 1984. The public fairy tale about the couple’s relationship eventually crumbled after Charles admitted to an interviewer in 1994 that he had an affair with Camilla. In an interview with a television station, Diana also revealed that there were three people in their marriage. The revelations tarnished Charles’ reputation even with his charity works.

As the Queen’s health started to decline, Prince Charles supported his mother in her final years. In 2018, he was named the Queen’s designated successor as the head of the Commonwealth, an international organization with 54 nations. The succession process accelerated following the death of Prince Philip on April 9, 2021.

On May 10, the queen gave Prince Charles the opportunity to serve as the presiding officer for the state opening of Parliament. This was an indication that a transition was taking place.

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