When Queen Elizabeth II passed away on Thursday, Prince Charles automatically became King Charles III. As the people of Britain and the other 14 Commonwealth states get used to their new monarch in 2022, Charles will begin to define his position as ruler and, more significantly, determine whether he will continue his activism from the throne.
Prince Charles of Wales did not hedge his statements on global warming. We need the motivating urgency of a war-like footing if we are to prevail, he said earlier this year, and “the globe is on the brink.” Now that he is King, he must walk a fine line between political activism and royal duties.
His reputation in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth will likely fluctuate depending on how he deals with his activist tendencies. It will also be significant in the United States, where Queen Elizabeth II’s marshmallow diplomacy (gentle, reassuring, and non-ideological) won the hearts of Americans for decades.
“Who Is Prince Charles?”
British and 14 other Commonwealth monarchies have Charles III (Charles Philip Arthur George, born 14 November 1948) as their monarch. His mother, Queen Elizabeth II, died on September 8, 2022, and he became monarch the following day. He was the oldest and longest-serving heir apparent in British history, having held the title of Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay from 1952 until his ascension, and the longest-serving Prince of Wales, having held the title from 26 July 1958 until his accession. Charles, at age 73, is also the oldest British monarch in history. William IV, who lived to be 64 years old, held the previous record.
If Charles keeps up his active activities, he risks losing not just the goodwill of the American public (which is already tarnished by the memory of his affair in the 1990s), but also the interest of the American public in the British monarchy. Due to decades of mutual support, information sharing, and language proficiency, this is not likely to disrupt the special connection between the United States and the United Kingdom. But this disinterest would signal the end of a British instrument that has quietly influenced American politics for the better part of a century, strengthening what is arguably the most important transatlantic alliance.
Early Life and Education
Charles, the first child of Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was born in Buckingham Palace on 14 November 1948, during the reign of his maternal grandfather George VI. On December 15, 1948, Geoffrey Fisher, the Archbishop of Canterbury, baptised him there. [fn 3] In 1952, after his grandfather died and his mother became Queen Elizabeth II, Charles became the de facto monarch. Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of Scotland; he was the monarch’s first son.
Many people believed that the Queen would make an excellent ambassador to the United States. Robert Traynham, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University who specialises in the Queen and U.S.-U.K. relations, claims that the monarch interacted with 13 of the last 14 American presidents and is therefore familiar with “the personalities, the eccentricities of the current government.
” While in England, she took horse-obsessed Ronald Reagan on a ride, accompanied lifelong baseball fan George H.W. Bush to his first game, and sent Dwight Eisenhower a recipe for “drop scones” (Scotch pancakes) after he tried them at Balmoral. Former President Obama described her as “really” one of his favourite people. In spite of the fact that Americans waged a struggle to gain independence from British dominion over two centuries ago, the Queen not only courted presidents but also charmed the U.S. populace.
Britain’s Post-Elizabethan Identity
In a May 2022 YouGov poll, 72% of Democrats and 68% of Republicans said they had a very or very favourable view of the queen. Former Bloomberg and Newsweek editor Stryker McGuire, who has written about Britain’s post-Elizabethan identity, attributes this fascination in part to the country’s enjoyment of “all the panoply and pageantry” surrounding the royal family.
The family’s “permanent celebrity” status is a huge part of their attractiveness. According to James Vaughn, a historian of Britain at the University of Chicago, “celebrities come and go, pop stars fade; entertainers, television stars, movie stars fade.” But the royal family continues to hold firm. The Queen was admired on both sides of the Atlantic because she was able to remain above the partisan maelstrom and did so consistently throughout her reign.
When Environmental Issues
According to Vaughn, there is “sneak adoration” for the way British politics divides the roles of prime minister and prime minister. The Prime Minister of England resides in a Downing Street townhouse, while the Monarch resides in a palace. Elisa Tamarkin, author of Anglophilia: Deference, Devotion, and Antebellum America, adds, “Our White House is more like a palace than a townhouse, and our President may act more like an overbearing monarch than any Prime Minister ever did.” The British monarchy “exists purely for show.”
In fact, the Queen “very, very seriously” considered her position as head of state, as emphasised by Vaughn. The Queen was like an “empty slate,” Mcguire says, in that she never said anything provocative. Blank celebrity slates allow fans to project their own fantasies onto the stars. They’re free to project their own traits and experiences into that character.
Charles, Elizabeth’s eldest son, has spent decades establishing a CV of progressive projects, many of which have been climate-centred. At the age of 21, he addressed a meeting in Cardiff’s rural area about the dangers of pollution, plastic, and overcrowding. This was back in 1970 when environmental issues were common political fodder. (He recalled that people at the time thought he was “totally potty.”)
This Dedication to Environmental Protection
Now, he performs in much larger venues. When he spoke to MEPs in 2008, he warned that the “doomsday clock of climate change is ticking” and urged the “largest public, commercial, and NGO alliance ever seen.” He pleaded with world leaders in COP21, COP26, and the G-20 summit in Rome in 2021. He introduced the Sustainable Markets Initiative at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos to encourage companies to adopt more environmentally friendly policies. The enumeration continues.
The vast network of nonprofits that Charles directs is also a significant part of his legacy. The Prince’s Trust is the most well-known organisation of its kind, and it works to improve the lives of disadvantaged people between the ages of 11 and 30. One of the lucky ones was Idris Elba. He was awarded a grant of £1,500 while he was a teenager living on an estate (public housing) in Hackney, London, to study acting with the National Youth Music Theatre.
While admirable, this dedication to environmental protection and charitable giving is politically contradictory. His public actions are progressive and he doesn’t mind shouting it from the rooftops. In addition to his immense riches, he comes from a family and institution that are deeply rooted in tradition and a culture of silence exemplified by the motto “never complain, never explain,” which was popularised by the Queen Mother.
Charles’ Invitations to Key Worldwide
Indeed, the Prince’s political actions were scrutinised: Rob Evans, a journalist for the liberal Guardian, filed a freedom of information request in 2005 to obtain copies of letters written by Charles to high-ranking government officials during the previous two years. Ten years and £400,000 later, the government finally conceded and released the “black spider” memos that revealed Charles’ lobbying for everything from better equipment for Iraq War troops to speaking out against the “illegal fishing of the Patagonian toothfish.”
In spite of this criticism, Charles’ invitations to key worldwide political meetings show that his stance as a monarch-come-activist is gaining ground. But this says nothing about how the American people will react to him; they idolised the Queen for her bland diplomacy, they are more divided than the British public on Charles‘ pet issues like climate change, and they have shown consistently low approval for the former Prince (nearly half of Americans were reported having an unfavourable view of Charles in a February 2022 poll.)
Many Americans still hold a grudge against Charles because of the high-profile dissolution of his marriage to Diana, a popular figure in the United States. But if he remains as frank as he has been since becoming King, that hostility may only deepen. Vaughn argues that because his mother “just played it flawlessly,” the president “would lose that shield of being a head of state above the fray.”
Anti-Environmental Forces Decide to Attack Him
If “anti-environmental forces decide to attack him,” as author Brian McKercher of Britain, America, and the Special Relationship Since 1941 warns, Charles might be used as a political weapon in the United States. He might be used as “a suitable cudgel to hammer a Democratic administration, or even a Republican one, that wants to accomplish environmental things.” In my opinion, that is entirely plausible.
In Britain and the United States, people may respond differently to Charles’s appeals for environmental action. The reason is, that a 2019 YouGov study found that whereas 51% of the British public believes the climate is changing and that human activity is mostly responsible, only 38% of the American public shares this view. When compared to the British, where only 5% have such a view, 1 in 6 Americans holds such a view.