The Activist King: How Charles Will Not Be a Silent Monarch

The Activist King: How Charles Will Not Be a Silent Monarch

The heir to the throne of the United Kingdom, and plenty of other countries besides, will break away from the Queen’s style of silent monarchy and continue a lifetime of interest and activism in political and social issues when he becomes King, according to sources. 

Even if this is considered a break with tradition, Charles, the Prince of Wales has certainly maintained other royal traditions, including following preceding heirs in generating seemingly limitless controversy. Unlike other Princes of Wales, the ceremonial title given to all heirs apparent to the throne, who have been known for being high-spending, womanising playboys, Prince Charles has made waves by becoming involved in architecture, the arts, and charity work. 

Speaking to the Guardian, a source “close to the heir” has suggested the Prince has no intention of changing course in the event of his becoming King. They said: “He will be true to his beliefs and contributions. Rather than a complete reinvention to become a monarch in the mould of his mother, the strategy will be to try and continue with his heartfelt interventions, albeit checking each for tone and content to ensure it does not damage the monarchy. Speeches will have to pass the following test: would it seem odd because the Queen wouldn’t have said it or would it seem dangerous?”.

One area in which the Prince has been outspoken is the built environment. Although he shot to prominence in the architectural world following his infamous “carbuncle” speech criticising modern architects in 1984, he had long harboured opinions on the subject. Distressed by the inhuman quality of modern architecture, which created soulless homes without reference to the spiritual and physical needs of ordinary people, he invited unreserved criticism from the established building world in 1993 when he decided to put his ideas into action.

Building on land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, the Prince’s private estate, the village of Poundbury by Dorchester, Dorset emphasised community cohesion in a way that had been lost during the tower-block revolution of the mid-20th century and created a natural, evolved street-plan in imitation of traditional English settlements. Although initially criticised, it has been said that Poundbury is the only housing estate in Britain that is getting better, not worse with age. 

The Prince appears pre-disposed to becoming involved in areas which interest him, even in the business of government, as the so-called ‘black spider’ letters attest. Written to government ministers, they are believed to give opinions, or set out opposition to government policy. Another source said: “The prince understands the need to be careful about how he expresses concerns or asks questions, but I do think he will keep doing exactly that… He is part of an evolving monarchy that is changing all the time. He feels these issues are too serious to ignore”. 

When Charles becomes King, if the present settlement remains unchanged he will also become the head of the Commonwealth, the 20th century club of Anglo-sphere nations and former colonies that arose after the dissolving of the British Empire. He will become the King of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and twelve other smaller nations across the globe, passing on the Prince of Wales’s coronet to William the Duke of Cambridge, his son.