If Prince Charles finally becomes Britain’s next monarch, he will have waited some seven decades for his chance to succeed his mother, Queen Elizabeth II…
Charles, who turns 70 on November 14, has spent much of his 66 years as first in line to the throne in military service, and formal and informal diplomacy, representing the queen at official events, running his estates and charitable foundations, and raising his two sons, Prince William, 36, and Prince Harry, 34.
Educated at an elite private school in Scotland and at Cambridge University, the former naval helicopter pilot has become a patron of the arts and of organizations helping deprived youngsters, as well as a campaigner for environmental and wildlife protection.
He has been criticised for lobbying the government, particularly on his cherished topics of the environment, architecture, agriculture, education and health.
Responding to a question on his alleged attempts to influence policy, Charles told the BBC in a documentary: “If it’s meddling to worry about the inner cities as I did 40 years ago, then if that’s meddling I’m proud of it.”
Accusations of meddling peaked in 2015 when Britain’s Supreme Court forced former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron to publish letters from Charles to members of the previous Labour government in the early 2000s.
The publication of the “black spider letters” – as they were called by British media, after Charles’ handwritten annotations to some of the typed documents – followed a 10-year legal battle by The Guardian newspaper.
In a 2004 letter to Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, Charles raised concerns over whether British troops in Iraq were adequately resourced and whether their Lynx helicopters were good enough.
Discussing agriculture with Blair, Charles said he wished “more could be done to encourage people to buy British,” while in another letter he encouraged a Labour minister to promote complementary medicine.
Like his father, Prince Philip, 97, Charles has his share of controversial and embarrassing moments
Charles and Philip are two of the less popular senior royals with the British public, who have better opinions of the queen and of William, Harry and their immediate families, according to recent polls.
In a 1984 speech, Charles opposed plans for a new facade for the National Gallery in central London’s Trafalgar Square, calling the planned improvement a “carbuncle.”
A leaked 1997 diary entry, published by British media, described Chinese leaders as “appalling old waxworks.”
And in 2014, he reportedly likened Russian President Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler.
Some of the public negativity towards Charles appears to stem from his separation in 1992 from his first wife, the hugely popular Princess Diana.
Charles married Diana, then Lady Diana Spencer, in 1981 in a ceremony that gripped the nation
The marriage had been dogged by rumours of the prince’s relationship with a former girlfriend, the then-married Camilla Parker-Bowles.
Diana died in a car crash in Paris in 1997, a year after her divorce from Charles, drawing an outpouring of grief from the public and leading some to criticize the royal family, including the queen, for alleged coldness towards the princess.
Charles and Camilla finally married in 2005 following years of controversy over their relationship
Camilla, 71, is now known as the Duchess of Cornwall and has been accepted as an integral member of the royal family.
And despite Charles’ relative lack of popularity, few people oppose him succeeding the queen, even with Camilla at his side.
Leaders of the 53 Commonwealth nations agreed in April that Charles will eventually succeed his mother as head of the British-led organization.
He was praised this month for a speech in Ghana acknowledging Britain’s role in “the appalling atrocity of the slave trade, and the unimaginable suffering it caused.”
“While Britain can be proud that it later led the way in the abolition of this shameful trade, we have a shared responsibility to ensure that the abject horror of slavery is never forgotten,” Charles said.
Author: ANA Newswire