The Distinct Lack Of Enthusiasm For The Man Who Would Be King
The news that Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Despond, are set to visit Canada this summer was greeted with something less than rapture from his subjects here. Indifference probably best describes the reaction to the sort of Royal news that, in the past, might have set off excitement from coast to coast to coast.
The question that occurs after such a damp squib, therefore, is whether it is a reflection on Royalty or simply the general meh over the Prince of Wales. With his mother, Queen Elizabeth, in her 90s, Charles’ eventual succession to the throne is now a present thing. While he himself is now 68, Charles should find himself finally getting the crown in the next five years (although the Queen Mother made it to 101).
There is no doubt that, under law, Charles is next in line, the rightful successor to his mother. In previous centuries, this secure a transfer of power was an essential element of national security. For the British, anything but the proper succession would be a constitutional crisis no prime minister wants to engage. Who needs that in Westminster as Brexit unwinds?
But it would not be an exaggeration to say that many in the realm want the Queen to order that Charles take a powder in favour of his son, Prince William. The reasons are, in order, 1) No one likes Charles2) Everyone likes William. 3) No one likes Charles.
Okay, you might also make the point that William, just 34 years old, would guarantee a long reign, stability and a good-looking dude to parade around for the millenials. Think of the casting in TV series such as The Crown? Besides, no one likes Charles.
In this, he has only himself to blame. Rejecting tradition, Charles has been a politicized Prince, adopting positions on a range of issues. To wit, his embrace of the global-warming hype has been an embarrassment to the Royal family— or it should be.
In one particular gust of enthusiasm for relevance, the kilted one warned in 2009 that the earth had “100 months” to avoid a climate catastrophe. When that went over worse than cold haggis, he extended his dire warning to 35 years to save the earth, i.e.. when he has already joined the choir invisible.
He’s now sniping at U.S. president Donald Trump, whose climate vision appears sane next to Charles’ overheated apocalypse. (How often can we say that Trump appears rational on a policy?) Trading barbs with Donald Trump is hardly a sign of the royal jelly.
Charles has also railed against modernization and energy policies that threaten his pristine seventeenth century vision of life. This is a fine position when you can retreat to Balmoral for a ramble or a little trout fishing in the royal brook. For those who don’t have six palaces in the portfolio taking the Luddite line is more problematic.
The British will have all these issues to deal with when Queen Elizabeth shuffles off her mortal coil. (Who even knows if Scotland would remain part of the United Kingdom?)The question is, what should Canadians do? How will Charles as King play in the former Dominion?
Charles is still an abstraction to Canadians outside of his unpleasant representation in the film The Queen and his role in the death of his wife Princess Diana. Certainly none of his aesthetic causes has seized the public imagination. While Canadians— even Quebeckers— have come to embrace his mother over the decades, will there be a similar rapprochement with Charles when he finally gets his hands on the orb?
His rheumy performance at the Vimy Memorial two weeks ago— and the dynamic presence of his sons— did nothing to endear him to Canadians. He seemed distracted, his best lines already co-opted by previous speakers. While we might give him a pass because of sun stroke after sitting in the blazing heat for hours, it’s still of a piece wth his usual fussy self. (His security detail carries his portable martini kit.)
The news that emerged recently that his son Prince Harry had sought emotional help for long-repressed feelings over his mother’s death in a car crash in 1997 only stirred up memories of Charles’ ineffectual response to that tragedy. And contrasted the humanity of his son with his own stiffness and tin ear for PR.
Whatever the remedy, the spectre of Charles padding his way around Canada demanding to be called sovereign likely won’t sit well with many in Trudeaupia. His wife Camilla doesn’t change any minds, either.
It says here that, at best, Canada could largely ignore him and his wife till William’s turn came round. At worst, a sustained period of Charles might stir the republican instinct in large parts of Canada. The best idea might be that Harry— who’s in a hot-and-heavy with Canadian Meghan Markle— be given some sort of position in Canada (governor general?). Using the photogenic prince has merit, and it might keep the Royals relevant till Dad joins the Windsors in the sky.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy.is the host of the podcast The Full Count with Bruce Dowbiggin on anticanetwork.com. He’s also a regular contributor three-times-a-week to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author of seven books. His website is Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com)