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Does Charles have the right stuff to be King? Friends don’t have the slightest doubt

Those who know him well say Charles is a happier, sunnier soul when Camilla is by his side. <i>Photo: Getty</i>

Those who know him well say Charles is a happier, sunnier soul when Camilla is by his side. Photo: Getty

As the United Kingdom’s longest-serving heir apparent, Prince Charles completed an apprenticeship like no other.

With the passing of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, almost 70 years after her son became next in line to the throne, King Charles III is now the UK’s newest monarch.

For Charles, the long-anticipated ascension to the throne must always be a bittersweet moment, attended by a conflict of competing emotions, with grief central to the mix— a sentiment shared across the globe.

For most of her subjects, the Queen has been the only monarch they have known throughout their lifetime, a constant presence widely regarded for managing the traditions of the monarchy in a fast-paced modern world.

As King, Charles will seek to achieve a fine balance of those traditions and the challenges of an ever-changing modern environment.

Having faced criticism during his role as Prince of Wales — he was derided when he revealed he talked to plants, incurred a backlash for his attacks on modern British architecture and endured the constant scrutiny of his ill-fated marriage to Diana Spencer — Charles has had early detractors.

But time has mellowed both the new King and the public, many of whom greeted him with messages of sympathy and encouragement at the gates of Buckingham Palace upon his return from his mother’s death bed in Balmoral on September 9. As he takes the reins of the monarchy, his tenure as king is being regarded in a decidedly more favourable light.

Significantly, friend of the King and author of Charles and Camilla: Portrait of a Love Affair, Gyles Brandreth, believes the new King understands his time as the often-outspoken Prince of Wales is behind him.

‘He has to become something different’

“We’ve seen him articulating his views passionately over the years. We’ve seen the ups and downs of his life. We know him very well and now he has to become something different. He’s no longer the Prince of Wales,” he told the BBC.

“He has been a workaholic for all these causes … he knows that’s all got to change. He’s got to hand that over to other people, specifically the new Prince of Wales, because he has now this new role which I think he will fulfill in exemplary fashion.”

As well distancing himself from many of the passion projects associated with his time as Prince of Wales, King Charles will need to successfully transition the monarchy into a new era in a manner that pays respect to his mother’s dedication to tradition and duty while allowing for his own take on the role.

Essential to his ownership of that new position is, according to Tina Brown, author of the 2022 The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor—the Truth and the Turmoil, a coronation full of pomp and ceremony. “Charles needs a shock-and-awe, crimson-and-ermine coronation to blow the doors off the start of his reign and affirm his role and that of the monarchy,” she told the UK’s Sunday Times in June.

“It needs to be absolutely mesmerising and seen by hundreds of millions around the world.”

She also recommends the new sovereign bring heir apparent Prince William and his wife Catherine to the forefront as a show of keeping the monarchy in pace with a modern Britain — a step that Brandreth believes was distinctly signalled in the King’s September 9 speech. when he said the couple would continue to inspire and lead national conversations.

“It was clear that the future lies with the (newly titled) Prince and Princess of Wales,” Brandreth told the BBC. “They are going to carry on the work here.”

Prince Charles couldn’t have had a better teacher than Queen Elizabeth. Photo: Getty

Predictions of a trimmed down working royal family under Charles’s instruction remain to be seen, but former British Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair believes the new King has the smarts to lead the monarchy into a prosperous and successful future.

“As the head of state he knows what to do. This is someone who has watched his mother over a very long period of time and he will know what to do and he will do it well,” he told the BBC on September 9.

“He’s intelligent, he works hard, he thinks about things. You’d have to say on the environment, on issues to do with climate, on issues to do with racial equality he was well ahead of his time.”

Importantly King Charles III will have the support of his wife, Camilla, the Queen Consort, during his regal journey.

“She brings fun to the relationship, she brings support to the relationship,” Brandreth says, describing Camilla’s role as “joint author” of the monarchy’s success.

‘He is fun, he’s jolly’

“People used to say that the Prince of Wales sometimes walked around with a cloud over his head, that he seemed very anguished and anxious. That isn’t how he is with her. When she is there, he is fun, he’s jolly, he’s easy.

“I think just as the Queen stepped into her role in 1952 with an ease that surprised people, I think that people might be surprised at the ease with which he steps into this role new, lets go of his past role and assumes kingship with (Camilla) at his side.”

As the fledgling King takes those first steps into the position that was so sincerely and admirably filled by his mother, Blair suggests the goodwill of the British people will be key to the 73-year-old’s leadership successes: “He will be, if we let him into our hearts in the right way, he will be a great rock of stability and support for us.”

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