Thomas Paine, writing a warning for the Americans on the monarchy said that “Such an unwise, unjust, unnatural compact might in the next succession put them under the government of a rogue or a fool.” As Nick Cohen said in the Guardian, “In Prince Charles, we have both.”
The current monarchy rests on convention, and an understanding that the current King or Queen will not attempt to test the limits of their unwritten constitutional boundaries. This has been largely been abused by Prince Charles, and it doesn’t seem likely that the situation will change if he becomes Monarch of the United Kingdom.
‘Above the fray’
Queen Elizabeth is perhaps the UK’s last ‘professional’ monarch, purely on the idea of keeping within unwritten convention – such as non-interference in politics today. Charles is most certainly not above the political fray. In a recent scandal for lobbying ministers on key areas in secret, the affair was covered up by the Attorney General despite a Freedom of Information request by journalist Nick Cohen being accepted. Lord Rogers is quoted on the scandal:
“It is either a democracy or it is not. I don’t think anybody, be it a king, prince or poor man, has a right to undermine decisions by private interventions which have a public impact. The only way for Charles to be a public figure is for him to act publicly. It is not democratic to cover up his interventions.”
Dominic Grieve, Attorney General, intervened in the due process of law – blocking a decision by the Upper Tribunal about releasing letters sent by the Prince. He said that if the sovereign were to abandon political neutrality then “inherited monarchy could not be preserved”. Given Charles’ desire to be unremitting in his lobbying, even if he becomes King, it might be said that the above remark will be regretted by the Attorney General. Nick Cohen attempts to describe Charles’ ‘ideology’:
From his mentor, the fraudulent South African anthropologist Laurens van der Post, he gained a faith in “philosophical traditionalism”: the belief that all religions contain the same perennial truths; and that the human race alienated itself from this ancient wisdom when it discovered the scientific method. Hence, his loathing for technologies that might feed the world, his embrace of the Saudi royal family, his support for reactionary versions of Islam and Buddhism, his strange desire to be a defender of all faiths and, above all, his preference for medicines that don’t work over medicines that do.
Ascension a ‘divine right’?
As the unpopularity of Charles is becoming increasingly clear, and the age of Queen Elizabeth (her age meaning that the throne will soon be up for grabs) too the issue of ascension is a contentious matter. Will Parliament stop Charles III’s ascension and choose a different member of the Windsors instead?
Seeing the monarchy a ‘different way’ from the rest of his family, as well as seeing public matters a different way from the elected governments will set Charles apart. Until now, the monarchy has stayed popular by being comparatively quiet and maintaing good PR (mainly through taxpayer money). Being loud, and demonstrating the real dangers of a constitutional monarchy to any democracy will be favourable to British Republicans.
- Prince Charles has no right to privacy on public matters | Nick Cohen (guardian.co.uk)
- Prince Charles: Why as a nation we’ve never quite been able to put our finger on why we’re not thrilled at the prospect of Charlie as king (mirror.co.uk)
- Prince of Wales letters: letters ‘a threat’ to Charles as King – Telegraph [del.icio.us] (telegraph.co.uk)