Prince Charles’s 70th birthday is next week. As we’ve seen, he’s picked up his PR game ahead of the milestone – there’s the Robert Jobson biography in which he seemingly checks his sons and the Vanity Fair cover story in which he and Camilla pose side by side with her hand on his knee and, once again, there’s some information about Prince William’s ego and how Charles has had to manage both his sons’ moods.
Tonight a new documentary about Prince Charles will air on the BBC. He talks about how he won’t be a “meddling monarch” when it’s his time, aware of the reputation that has followed him through the years that he has allegedly tried to influence government decisions and has lobbied ministers to take up his causes. Charles insists that none of that is going to happen when he becomes king. Camilla does a lot of talking here too – and she maybe even is better at talking about Charles than Charles is. Because it’s Camilla who is telling us that, supposedly, Charles is not obsessed with becoming king, that he doesn’t think about it, that he knows it will happen, he doesn’t have to stress it. OK.
Here’s the comment I found most interesting, made by Charles himself:
“I think it's vital to remember there's only room for one sovereign at a time, not two. But the idea somehow that I'm going to go on exactly the same way, if I have to succeed, is complete nonsense.”
How do you read this? Is he saying that he’s not going to bother trying to live up to the reign of his mother, Queen Elizabeth, because he’s his own person? Or…and “and”… is he trying to send a message to the one who will follow him? That when he’s king, HE will be king, not William?
Speaking of William, both he and Prince Harry participated in the show, offering insight on their relationships with their father. Camilla says that Charles is all about his grandkids and that it’s not unusual to see him on his hands and knees, crawling around with them and playing. William says Charles is great around his kids…but that he wants him to be around a lot more:
“It's something I'm working more heavily on, put it that way. I think he does have time for it, but I would like him to have more time with the children. 'Now he's reached his 70th year it's a perfect time to consolidate a little bit because, as most families would do, you are worried about having them around and making sure their health's OK – and he's the fittest man I know but equally I want him to be fit until he's 95.
So having more time with him at home would be lovely, and being able to play around with the grandchildren.
Because when he's there, he's brilliant. But we need him there as much as possible.”
We’d just heard last week that Charles had invited William and Kate to spend time with him this summer and that the Cambridges declined but Harry and Meghan Markle showed up. What is going on between Charles and William? Or are we reading too much into something that isn’t there?
Not that all that many people are reading it at all. Probably the biggest headline so far coming out of these previews is what Harry says about asking Charles to walk pre-Royal Meghan down the aisle at their wedding.
“I asked him to and I think he knew it was coming and he immediately said, ‘Yes, of course, I’ll do whatever Meghan needs and I’m here to support you.’
For him that’s a fantastic opportunity to step up and be that support, and you know he’s our father so of course he’s gonna be there for us.”
As I posted at the time, that was a GREAT look for Charles. It put Charles front-and-centre that day. And he had several shine moments – down the aisle, when Harry said “thanks, Pa”, and when he looked after Royal Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, during and after the ceremony. Seems like he quite enjoyed it. And is very much enjoying it now…
Although I’m not using any photos of him with this post. Because there are brand new shots of Prince Harry today at the field of Remembrance service at Westminster Abbey. We’ll see the Cambridges and the Sussexes over the next few days as the royals commemorate those who have served and sacrificed.