Prince Charles: 'Me, med­dle as a king? I'm not that stupid'

The Guardian Australia - - World News - Caro­line Davies

The Prince of Wales has sought to quell con­cerns that he would be a “med­dling” or ac­tivist king , say­ing “I’m not that stupid”. His words, the strong­est yet on the sub­ject of his king­hood, are to be broad­cast in a doc­u­men­tary on BBC One on Thurs­day to mark his 70th birth­day.

Declar­ing the role of sov­er­eign and heir to be dif­fer­ent, Prince Charles main­tains he is aware of the con­straints he will en­counter as king, and says his be­hav­iour will change. Ac­knowl­edg­ing that some peo­ple have ac­cused him of be­ing a med­dling prince, he ar­gues that he has al­ways tried to be non-party po­lit­i­cal. “It is vi­tal to re­mem­ber there’s only room for one sov­er­eign at a time. Not two,” he says.

He also says in the doc­u­men­tary, en­ti­tled Prince, Son and Heir, Charles at 70: “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 sit­u­a­tions are com­pletely dif­fer­ent.

“You only have to look at Shake­speare plays, Henry V or Henry IV part I and 2, to see the change that can take place. Be­cause if you be­come the sov­er­eign then you play the role in the way that it is ex­pected.

“So, clearly I won’t be able to do the same things I’ve done as heir. So, of course, you op­er­ate within the con­sti­tu­tional pa­ram­e­ters. But it’s a dif­fer­ent func­tion. I think peo­ple have for­got­ten that the two are very dif­fer­ent.”

Charles has faced crit­i­cism for decades over his cam­paign­ing on is­sues such as GM crops, ar­chi­tec­ture, in­te­grated medicine, and cli­mate change. When told peo­ple have ex­pressed wor­ries that this would con­tinue in the same way, Charles re­sponds: “No. It won’t. I’m not that stupid. I do re­alise that it is a sep­a­rate ex­er­cise be­ing sov­er­eign. So, of course, you know, I un­der­stand en­tirely how that should op­er­ate.”

Asked if he could con­tinue, as king, to use his “con­ven­ing power”, he replies: “Well, you never know. But you could only do it with the agree­ment of min­is­ters. That’s how it works.”

The Duchess of Corn­wall says that Charles knows“his des­tiny” so, she says: “I don’t think it does weigh on his shoul­ders at all.” It was not some­thing her hus­band talked about very much, she says. “It’s just some­thing that’s go­ing to hap­pen.”

The Duke of Cam­bridge im­plores his fa­ther to spend more time with his grand­chil­dren, Ge­orge, five, Princess Char­lotte, three, and Prince Louis, six months. Ap­peal­ing to Charles to slow down, he says: “I would like him to have more time with the chil­dren.” Prince Wil­liam adds: “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.”

Prince, Son and Heir, Charles at 70, on BBC 1 at 21.00 on Thurs­day 8 Novem­ber.

Pho­to­graph: Chris Jack­son/Getty Images

Prince Charles at his Lon­don home, Clarence House, in 2012 with Global In­vest­ment Con­fer­ence del­e­gates and the then Bri­tish prime min­is­ter David Cameron, right.

Pho­to­graph: Philip Toscano/ PA

Copy of the let­ter Charles wrote to the primemin­is­ter Tony Blair, to in­flu­ence agri­cul­tural poli­cies.

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