Charles says he’ll give up soap­box when on throne

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

LONDON — Prince Charles has strong views on many things: plas­tic pol­lu­tion, mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture, or­ganic farm­ing and even the plight of the Patag­o­nian tooth­fish.

But the heir to the Bri­tish throne in­sists he will stop med­dling in con­tro­ver­sial — or even main­stream — is­sues af­ter he as­cends to the throne.

“I’m not that stupid,” said Charles, Queen El­iz­a­beth II’s el­dest son, when asked if he would con­tinue to pub­licly cam­paign af­ter he be­comes king. “I do re­al­ize that it is a sep­a­rate ex­er­cise be­ing sov­er­eign. So of course I un­der­stand en­tirely how that should op­er­ate.”

The com­ments — from a BBC doc­u­men­tary “Prince, Son And Heir: Charles At 70” that aired Thurs­day night — mark the first time he has ad­dressed con­cerns that he could be a med­dling monarch.

Un­like his mother El­iz­a­beth, who can dis­cuss is­sues like Brexit in neu­tral tones, Charles has trig­gered crit­i­cism — and praise — for his con­tro­ver­sial views. Per­haps most fa­mously, he once called a planned ex­ten­sion at London’s Na­tional Gallery a “mon­strous car­bun­cle.” The de­sign was later scrapped.

The fu­ture king also came un­der scru­tiny af­ter the pub­li­ca­tion of a cache of let­ters he penned to gov­ern­ment min­is­ters — dubbed the “black spi­der memos” be­cause of Charles’ scrawled hand­writ­ing — that showed him to be a sup­porter of a num­ber of causes.

“Charles will never be neu­tral just as he will never be party po­lit­i­cal,” wrote Cather­ine Mayer in her book, “Charles: The Heart of a King.” She con­tin­ued: “For bet­ter or for worse — in my fi­nal anal­y­sis, more of­ten for bet­ter than for worse — the Prince is a man with a mis­sion, a knight on a quest.”

Charles, who turns 70 Wed­nes­day, is the longest­serv­ing heir ap­par­ent in Bri­tish his­tory. In the BBC doc­u­men­tary, he said that he will op­er­ate within “con­sti­tu­tional pa­ram­e­ters” when he be­comes monarch, which is a “com­pletely dif­fer­ent” role to be­ing the Prince of Wales, as the heir in Bri­tain is known.

The doc­u­men­tary fea­tures in­ter­views with his sons Wil­liam and Harry.

While Charles said he un­der­stood that be­ing king would be dif­fer­ent to be­ing heir, he did de­fend his ac­tivism.

“If it’s med­dling to worry about the in­ner cities as I did 40 years ago,” he said, “if that’s med­dling, I’m very proud of it.”

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