Charles III, new King of England

Charles III, new King of England

After a lifetime of waiting, the often unloved and misunderstood Prince Charles, 73, became King Charles III on Thursday following the death of his mother Elizabeth II, at an age generally more conducive to retirement than to major reforms. His accession to the throne after 70 years of patience, a record in the history of the British monarchy, came immediately after the Queen’s death, by virtue of an ancient Latin maxim “Rex nunquam moritur” (the king never dies). His name will be Charles III and his services will be confirmed in the evening shortly after Prime Minister Liz Truss welcomed the new monarch.

“Today, as it has for over a thousand years, the crown goes to our new monarch, our new head of state, His Majesty King Charles III,” said the newly appointed Prime Minister, whom the Queen received at Balmoral Castle on Tuesday to ask him to set up a new government to build. The coronation of Charles, a timeless ceremony unique in Europe, is expected to take place in a few weeks at best, once the trauma of the death of Queen Elizabeth II, a distinguished sovereign who died at 96, has been overcome. She herself had been crowned in June 1953, 16 months after she had been proclaimed queen. According to Bob Morris, author of several books on the future of the monarchy, it was “the last imperial hurray”, with “8,250 people crammed into Westminster Abbey”.

Heir to the throne since the age of 3

According to him, Charles should prefer “a quicker and smaller coronation”, but everything could depend on the date to avoid a mid-winter coronation. His second wife, Camilla, will become Queen Consort, a wish expressed by the Queen last February. For the British, the issue remained sensitive. After her remarriage to Prince Charles in 2005, Camilla had chosen not to take on the title of Princess of Wales as she had become too associated with Princess Diana, who Charles had cheated on with her for many years.

Strange fate than that of this prince with a unique personality, much less popular than his mother, whose death he awaited to come to light. Born 14 November 1948, the eldest son, he became heir apparent in February 1952 aged 3 years 3 months when Princess Elizabeth, 25, died after the death of her father George VI. From his first official engagements in the 1970s, the Prince of Wales’s role has been “to support Her Majesty the Queen as the center of national pride”.

For this reason he has received dignitaries in the United Kingdom on his behalf, attended state dinners, traveled to hundreds of countries, bestowed thousands of honours, attended inaugurations, honored heroes, written or recorded countless messages of encouragement or congratulations. He increasingly replaced his mother in declining health. In May, Charles had delivered the Speech from the Throne in Parliament for the first time, one of his most important constitutional functions.

Much less popular than his son William

Brits know him best from the failure of his marriage to Princess Diana, which caused him significant damage in the 1990s, and his remarriage to Camilla. Charles has made the best of this very long wait as a man of passion, an early defender of the environment, a lover of alternative medicine, a passion for sustainable urban planning, and an inspired gardener who talks to his trees. Since 2007, it has published its “ecological footprint” (a total of 3,133 tons of CO2 in 2020 compared to 5,070 in 2019).

He is President or Benefactor of more than 420 charities overall, the most important of which, the Prince’s Trust, has helped more than a million young people in difficulty since it was founded in 1976. But this old dandy aristocrat, who loves cross suits, is much less popular than his mother, who has been completely devoted to her role for 70 years and is of absolute neutrality. Is it his age, his clumsiness, or his overly garrulous passion that is sometimes judged to be on the verge of political interference? In a recent YouGov poll in May, he was only 56% in favour, well behind the Queen (81%), her son Prince William (77%), her daughter-in-law Kate Middleton or her sister Princess Anne. Camilla reached the top with 48% positive opinions.

Since the death of his father Prince Philip in spring 2021 and while the Queen was less present, Charles has narrowed the royal circle around him, Camilla, his eldest son William, his youngest brother Edward. He takes the reins of an institution of lesser importance in the world, in a time and age that presents a double challenge. Nobody knows yet how Charles Philip Arthur George will embody her, but one thing is already certain: his reign is numbered.

(with AFP)


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