Prince Charles has been an avid campaigner over the years on issues such as the environment, but said he wouldn’t be as vocal if he were king. Speculation has been mounting as to when Charles will take over from his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, and reign as king. Speaking in a BBC documentary to mark his 70th birthday, Prince Charles said the idea that he would continue making interventions was “nonsense”. He added that he would have to operate within “constitutional parameters”.
The Prince of Wales said: “It’s vital to remember there’s only room for one sovereign at a time, not two.
“So, you can’t be the same as the sovereign if you’re the Prince of Wales or the heir.
“But the idea, somehow, that I’m going to go on in exactly the same way, if I have to succeed, is complete nonsense because the two – the two situations – are completely different.”
Asked whether his public campaigning would continue, he said: “No, it won’t. I’m not that stupid.”
Prince Charles made the comments in a 2018 BBC documentary commemorating his 70th birthday.
BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said, however, that, in private, Prince Charles could still seek to influence Government policy.
He said: “The definition of what he is entitled to do as sovereign is to encourage and to warn.”
While marking his 60th birthday in 2008, he said his function would be to bring people together to focus on issues, to exploit what he calls his “convening” power.
When asked whether as king he would continue to champion themes, the Queen’s eldest son replied: “I don’t know. Probably not in the same way.”
And Prince Charles told Vanity Fair in 2010 that he sees the role in “a different way” from his predecessors, because the situation has changed.
Some have questioned whether Charles will be more outspoken than the Queen on various issues affecting the country.
During Prime Minister Tony Blair’s time in Downing Street, for example, Charles lobbied the Labour Government to expand grammar schools, change course on climate change and GM crops, and to introduce complementary medicine on the NHS.
The Guardian reported in 2014 claims by sources close to Charles who also said he would be an outspoken king.
The claims were made in the article titled “Revealed: how Charles III will speak his mind”.
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?”
Patrick Holden, a friend and adviser of the prince, said Charles “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 added that Charles “is part of an evolving monarchy that is changing all the time. He feels these issues are too serious to ignore”.
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The Prince of Wales may become king sooner than many imagined.
Queen Elizabeth II has been an ever-present face since inheriting the throne in 1952, becoming one of the most widely recognised aspects of British culture.
But according to some, the Prince Andrew crisis has provided proof that the Queen is taking on less responsibility, and this could suggest she is planning for retirement from royal duties.
Speaking to CTV News, royal expert Richard Bethelson said last year: “I myself felt that, after the Duke of Edinburgh retired at 95, it set the way and was a bit of a trial balloon for the Queen to follow suit in a few years.
“She’s about two years away from that now, the Duke of Edinburgh is 98.
“I think the Queen would, if she felt she couldn’t perform the duties to the full extent she would like to do, she would probably feel it would be appropriate for her to either make way for a regency or to out and out abdicate.”