A major change is brewing in the U.K. After almost seven decades on the throne, all eyes are on Queen Elizabeth II as she is expected to step down in the near future, and finally turn the throne over to her eldest son, Prince Charles. The Prince of Wales has been waiting to become the King of England since he was a small boy, but a series of scandals, a terrible marriage, and a tricky public image hasn’t exactly made him the most beloved person in England.
With his parents, the queen and Prince Philip stepping back and his sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, stepping forward to take on more responsibility, it seems that Prince Charles is more than ready to step in when he is called. However, many people, including his father, don’t think he’s quite prepared for the crown.
Could Prince Philip be plotting against Prince Charles becoming King of England?
A difficult childhood
Prince Charles and Prince Philip always had a difficult relationship. The war-hardened and fearless Duke of Edinburgh had very little patience for his son whom he felt was too coddled and pampered by the Queen Mother and his royal upbringing.
In his novel, Rebel Prince: The Power, Passion, and Defiance of Prince Charles author Tom Bower writes, “Philip believes that his son will never forgive him for his apparent “sins” when Charles was a boy. These include ordering him to wear corduroy trousers to a birthday party; even as a middle-aged man, he still felt the sting of the trivial humiliation of being the only boy in cords.”
Next: The “slow developer”
A late bloomer
Charles has never been in his father’s good graces. As a youth, he wasn’t the active, boyish son that Prince Philip might have expected. He was colicky, frequently sick, and his parents referred to him as a “slow developer.” According to the New Yorker, “His mother, whom he would later describe as ‘not indifferent so much as detached,’ worried that he was a ‘slow developer.’ His father, Prince Philip, thought him weedy, effete, and spoiled.”
Next: A very long life
A thousand years
Both Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth are well into their 90s, and for the most part, both of them are in good health.
In Rebel Prince, Bower explains, “At a recent dinner with friends in Mayfair, Philip joked about his determination to live beyond 95. The reason for his and the Queen’s longevity, he explained amid his friends’ laughter, was to keep Charles from the throne.”
Next: A ton of doubts
Throughout his life, Prince Charles, with all of his eccentricities, has truly troubled his father. From his humiliating affair with Duchess Camilla Parker Bowles to his meddling in the government, the prince has often gone against the royal grain.
According to Bower, “Philip has little confidence in Charles’ ability to rule the United Kingdom and doubted whether his son, who had barely come to terms with the 20th century, could unify the country in the 21st.”
Next: Does he even want it?
The fear of duty
Prince Charles himself previously stated that being the king was a possible horror for him. When he turned 21, he was asked to describe how he felt when he first realized he would one day bear the responsibility of kingship. Charles replied, “I think it’s something that dawns on you with the most ghastly inexorable sense … and slowly you get the idea that you have a certain duty and responsibility.”
Next: Skipping over Prince Charles
An interesting rumor
As the queen and Prince Philip continue to age, there has been a rumor swirling that the monarch would simply skip Prince Charles and place Prince William on the throne ahead of his father. For many folks in the U.K., this would be ideal. The young, thriving prince and his wife, Duchess Kate Middleton, are beloved across the globe and walk that fine line between being regal and completely approachable.
However, Prince William skipping ahead is just a rumor. Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine explained to People, “The Queen herself doesn’t have the power to make those sort of decisions.” The 1701 Act of Settlement says that Parliament determines who sits on the throne and that this person must be the monarch’s direct successor.
Next: The worst royal role
An unwanted position
Even if Prince William were able to skip ahead of his father to become the King of England, he wouldn’t want the job. In fact, in 2017, Prince Harry told Newsweek that no one wants to sit on the throne. Seward explained that the role of a monarch is quite straining.
She revealed to People, “[Prince Charles] wants his son to have the chance of a family life before he takes up the burden of kingship – a King has no family life as it is so restricting. William doesn’t want to be King before his father, no way.”
Next: Who does the media love?
Misplaced media focus
Charles has been worried for some time that the media focuses much more on Kate Middleton and Prince William than himself and Camilla. “Charles saw Kate and William as the new stars and feared he’d be in trouble,” the chief executive of Charles’ charity foundation in America told Tom Bower.
Next: Damaging the monarchy
Keeping Charles at bay
Since Prince Philip nor the U.K. can actually keep the Prince of Wales away from the throne, the Duke of Edinburgh seems determined to make his son’s tenure as the King of England as brief as possible.
Bower writes, “At 91, he said, the queen was in robust health—and, he implied, could well live for another 10 years. That, in turn, would mean Charles might be king for only a brief period—and would, therefore, have little opportunity to damage the monarchy.”
Next: A failed plot
Propping up Camilla
Not only is the public wary about Prince Charles, but his wife, Duchess Camilla Parker Bowles, isn’t exactly beloved. In fact, when the prince and duchess finally married in 2005, they tried to calm the public by saying that that the Duchess of Cornwall would never be the Queen of England.
However, in Rebel Prince, Bower talks about a plan that was orchestrate to cast Duchess Camilia in a more favorable light after the death of Princess Diana. As you would imagine, the plan failed spectacularly. A recent poll found that only 14% of Britons want Camilla as queen.
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Additional reporting by John Wolfe