Charles says he’ll give up soapbox when on throne
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.”