Prince Charles in­sists he won’t be a med­dle­some monarch

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LONDON — Prince Charles has es­pe­cially 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, which come from a one­hour BBC doc­u­men­tary, Prince, Son And Heir: Charles At 70, mark the first time he has pub­licly ad­dressed con­cerns that he could be a med­dling monarch.

Un­like his in­scrutable 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 scru­tiny fol­low­ing 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 next week, is the long­est-serv­ing 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 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,” he said, ac­cord­ing to ex­cerpts of the doc­u­men­tary re­leased ahead of its broad­cast on Thurs­day evening.

The doc­u­men­tary fea­tures in­ter­views with his sons Prince Wil­liam, who said he would like to see his fa­ther spend more time with his grand­kids, and Prince Harry, who praised his fa­ther for walk­ing Meghan down the aisle when her fa­ther couldn’t make the wed­ding.

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.”


Bri­tain’sPrince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Corn­wall, are filmeddur­ing a doc­u­men­tary to cel­e­brate his 70th birth­day. Charles has pledged not to in­ter­fere in the af­fairs of state when he be­comes king, seek­ing to dis­pel con­cerns about his pastac­tivism.

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