After 184 days in Buckingham: why Charles III is the complicated king

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During his long wait to ascend to the throne, King Charles III did not hold back his outspoken views on everything from climate change to architecture. Ridiculed by some for his statements and accused of meddling in political and social issues that do not concern him, Charles has always believed that he should be able to speak his mind on issues that he considers important to the British as well… But now he is king and his rise to the throne changes things.

A few years ago, when asked if he would continue to express his views from the throne, Charles responded bluntly: “I’m not that stupid. I realize that being sovereign is a separate exercise.” Elizabeth II, in fact, said almost nothing in public unless it was written down, and she went to her grave never sharing her opinion on anything. The point is that Charles’ temperament is not like his mother’s…

The Times reveals that some of the King’s friends compare him to Eeyore (the melancholy donkey of.

Winnie the Pooh), prone to self-pity, not to mention the smugness he briefly displayed during the climb, when a pen wasn’t working. Many agree that what the Queen, Camilla, does best – as she did with the pen, intervening with another – is to manage him: cheer him up when he’s down, pamper him when he needs it, and know how and when to persuade him to a certain course of action when his staff have tried and failed. “Leave it to me,” she tells courtiers, and a press secretary describes her as “the last court of appeal.”

Interior designer Robert Kime, who has decorated several houses for Charles since his bachelor days, said it’s like a lighthouse whose beam shines brightly but briefly and then goes away.

The diarist James Lees-Milne was often invited to spend the weekend in Chatsworth with the prince and described Charles as “quite moving, a tragic figure with a lot of charm”. “Unfortunately,” he added after sitting down to dinner next to him on another occasion, “he is too ignorant, he gropes for something that escapes him.”

Lord Mandelson told the future king in 1997 that he was viewed by the public as a bit gloomy, a bit “downcast and discouraged”. The news caused Charles a monumental discouragement and he displayed a recurring character trait in a man so often surrounded by people who tell him what he wants to hear. He had invited Mandelson to Balmoral expressly to ask him what he thought of him but had bristled when he didn’t like the answer.

Tina Brown, author of The Palace Papers, quoting a member of her Highgrove entourage, states that the problem with Charles is that he was always desperate for his mother’s approval, “but he knew he would never get it. He was the wrong kind of person for her: too needy, too vulnerable, too emotional, too complicated, too self-centered.”

The queen was 22 years old when Charles was born by caesarean section at Buckingham Palace on November 14, 1948. According to The Times, the arrival of her son and heir was greeted with a 41-gun salute and the Trafalgar Square fountains were lit up. blue. A crowd of 4,000 people waited outside the palace for the news, while inside her father declared with typical candor that the baby looked like a plum pudding.

The plum pudding was raised entirely by nannies, because that was generally how the aristocracy thought their children should be raised. Charles told his biographer, Jonathan Dimbleby, that it was the nannies, not his parents, who played with him, read to him, and watched his first steps, while the Queen dutifully read her state papers and planted trees. They would take him to see his mother at nine o’clock in the morning, and she would come back to see him from time to time in the afternoon.

“If the Queen had cared half as much about raising her children as she cared about raising her horses,” a private secretary told Robert Lacey, “the royal family would not be in such an emotional mess,” he said.

In its portrayal of the king, The Times claims that he was completely devoid of emotional background. He “grew up feeling emotionally distanced from his parents, not to mention emotionally repressed. In any case, when the Duke of Sussex writes in his book Spare about the day his mother died, he points out that his father wasn’t very good at showing emotion under normal circumstances, so how could he be expected? Will he show them in a crisis like this? That morning, sitting on the bed of his dear son, Charles patted his knee, but he couldn’t even give him a hug.

Academically, Charles is the first monarch in British history to have a university degree, but the school journey was not easy for him… One of his classmates recently admitted that he “was bullied and very isolated”. On the rugby field he was noticeable: they insulted him, hit him in the scrum and pulled his ears. Privately, in a letter, he described the school as “absolute hell.”

After completing his final year at Cambridge, Diana’s husband-to-be trained as a jet pilot in the RAF and as a helicopter pilot in the Royal Navy, before leaving the armed forces in 1976. And that’s where the troubles began.

The only point in Charle’s life, the reason for his existence, remained in abeyance until his mother’s death. Until then, what was he going to do?

“My big problem in life,” he told the Cambridge Union Society a couple of years later, in 1978, “is that I don’t know what my role in life is. At the moment I don’t have any. But somehow I must find one.” While he was at it, he cut a glamorous figure on the polo fields and was shown hunting (his biographer Jonathan Dimbleby notes that all of his passions as a young man had to do with death: hunting, shooting and fishing). He was dubbed Britain’s most eligible bachelor, the dashing man of action heir to the throne. But the Prince of Wales complained that there was no job description for him.

So he invented one, notes The Times, the Prince’s Trust, and what he started to do was talk: about the dangers of upsetting the balance of nature; of the evils of modern architecture; of the dangers of plastic; about the convenience of talking to plants. Apparently, nothing was off limits to a man who once said, “I don’t see why politicians and others should think they have a monopoly on wisdom.” Over the years he has passionately spoken about small farmers, big business, urbanism and forests. Dissatisfied with modern architecture, he built his own model town, Poundbury, in Dorset, with outdated ideals, some disputed, and mixed reviews.

He started schools for artists, teachers, architects, and craftsmen, and wrote dozens of letters to government ministers. He became known as the “black spider memos” after some of them were published after a long government battle to keep them private. With the Prince’s Trust, he wanted to focus on children who had been left behind: homeless, unemployed or who had failed at school. The Foundation once awarded a £1,500 scholarship to an aspiring actor named Idris Elba to help launch his career.

The British media details that Charles gets up before 7 in the morning and finds the day’s newspapers on a tray. He drinks tea from a porcelain cup. In the background, the radio is tuned to the Today show. He dresses in a bespoke suit from his Savile Row tailor, a bespoke shirt from his Jermyn Street dressmaker, and bespoke shoes from his shoemaker. He douses himself with Eau Sauvage and eats seasonal fruit, seeds and yogurt for breakfast. At 8 in the morning, he starts with his paperwork. The day has begun.

Engagements run from 10am to 5pm, when he stops for a sandwich and a piece of cake, having once proclaimed, somewhat histrionically: “I can’t function without lunch.” After tea, he continues to work, she breaks for dinner, which is served at 8:30 p.m. sharp, and returns to work from 10:00 p.m. to midnight. His agenda for the next six months is fashioned twice a year with military precision, around invitations from trustees and charities, military affiliations, and state occasions: Remembrance Sunday, the state opening of Parliament, the Trooping the Colour.

“He is a demanding boss because he is very demanding with himself,” one of his collaborators told Valentine Low.

Charles, Camilla and Diana

In the 1970s, as the decade drew to a close, what Charles needed was not friends but a wife. He met Camilla Parker Bowles in 1971, although there are two versions as to exactly how she turned out: one is that she propositioned him at a polo match; the other is that she introduced them to Lucía Santa Cruz, a mutual friend who knew Charles from Cambridge -and took her virginity- and who now lived upstairs from Camilla. Charles and Camilla dated for a while, but Camilla was infatuated with her one-time boyfriend, a handsome army officer named Andrew Parker Bowles. Some even suspect that Camilla dated Charles to make Parker Bowles jealous, or as a settling of scores after her boyfriend had an affair with Princess Anne.

In any case, while Charles was in the navy for eight months, Parker Bowles proposed to him and Camilla said yes. “I suppose the feeling of emptiness will eventually pass,” Charles wrote to a friend. Tina Brown argues that Camilla then “cleverly” wove Charles into her life with her cheating husband like an insurance policy, making him godfather to her first child, keeping the sexual chemistry alive, and vetting potential brides for their suitability and degree of suitability. the threat they posed to her. It is said that at a dance where Charles was dating someone Camilla did not consider suitable, she kissed him passionately on the dance floor. The unsuitable girlfriend left in a huff and was never seen again.”

“Marriage is basically a solid friendship,” The Times recalls Charles once saying, “so I would want to marry someone whose interests I could share.” When he met teenage Lady Diana Spencer, those interests included daily cold showers, historical biographies, and books on anthropology, psychology, and sociology. His musical tastes included Beethoven, Mozart and Vivaldi. Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ made him cry. His thirteenth date was also his wedding. He was 32, she was 19, and it was obvious, according to a friend, that they were incompatible.

Diana described it as “the most emotionally confusing day of my life”. Six years later, the groom wrote to a friend: “How could I have been so wrong?”

In Battle of Brothers, Robert Lacey argues that for Charles the marriage was “essentially a business proposition” about succession, not love. Diana later told Andrew Morton that she felt “like a lamb to the slaughter”. It is said that at the beginning of the honeymoon, on the Royal Yacht Britannia, a furious argument broke out when two photos of Camilla fell out of Charles’s diary.

“How horrible incompatibility is,” Charles wrote to a friend in 1986. “How terribly destructive it can be.”

The result was that, behind closed doors, William and Harry grew up in an unhappy home, with feuding parents prone to screaming, sullen silences, vicious arguments, and tears. According to an infamous anecdote, William was seven years old when he stuffed tissues under the bathroom door for his sobbing mother and said, “I hate to see you sad.” “I hate you dad, I hate you so much,” William yelled on one occasion. “Why do you make mom cry all the time?”

His approval rating in February 1993 was 4%, 38% of the public thought he should never be king, and his suitability for the position was questioned by senior government officials. Just a decade earlier, before Diana, 70% of those polled thought he was the friendliest member of the royal family, far more than his mother. His 1994 interview, in which he admitted to his adultery, was a public relations disaster. Added to this was Diana’s interview the following year with Martin Bashir, in which she basically said that he was not fit to be king and that being a monarch would be “suffocating”. Overall, between 1991 and 1996 the percentage of people who thought Charles would make a good king halved, to 41%.

The Times notes that with Diana becoming a global superstar, Charle’s relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles was a festering wound on his reputation, a constant reminder that there had been three of them in the marriage. In a television debate in 1997, any mention of Camilla was greeted with boos and hisses from the 3,000 viewers.

For Charles, however, she was not negotiable, recalls the newspaper about the persistence of the now king. But all of Bolland’s attempts to include Camilla in the literal picture came to a screeching halt with Diana’s death.

According to Robert Lacey, Charle’s immediate reaction was one of self-pity: “Everyone is going to blame me.”

Nothing in his temperament or upbringing had prepared him to be a single parent, so he largely outsourced work to others, immersing himself in his work and his lover. Although today the monarchy is riding high with the glamorous new Princes of Wales and their three young children, by the turn of the century, according to Tina Brown, a “damp melancholy” and “deep clumsiness”. The Queen had been very clear that no member of the monarchy was to outshine anyone again, and once the dust of Diana’s death had settled, Camilla, a solid, dependable, middle-aged woman, could at least do her best. that requirement.

Charles proposed on one knee at Birkhall, his Balmoral home, and the ceremony took place in Windsor in 2005. Jonathan Dimbleby writes that “in Camilla Parker Bowles, the prince found the warmth, understanding and steadfastness he had always longed for.”.

Firmness in a royal couple was all very well, but what the royal family also needed was an antidote to the dank melancholy, an injection of youth, fun, and glamour. Princes William and Harry, in full maturity, got both. In 2011, Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton was a public relations triumph for the family, although it ended up being a problem for Charles… Many thought the throne should go directly to his eldest son.

By then, 60% of Australians thought the throne should go directly to William. However, in the meantime, the Queen was still in charge. In the Diamond Jubilee the following year, and in the years since, Charles has been able to play doting grandfather, carrying his young grandson Louis on his knees during the Platinum Jubilee and reading stories to Camilla’s grandchildren.

The Times describes Charles as a kind man with a terrifying character, a visionary who sometimes cannot see beyond his own navel, and a man who delights in hunting and shooting, but told his future daughter-in-law, Meghan Markle, who couldn’t bear to think about the suffering of any animal.

He is so committed to the real world that he created the Prince’s Trust, but so detached from reality that he thought Lucian Freud would trade a painting of his for one of his watercolors. And he is so deaf to the feelings of his friends that he goes to dinner parties with his own martini and to house parties with his own furniture. The Palace Papers tells how Charle’s arrival to spend the weekend was usually preceded by a truck that brought his bed, furniture and paintings. The hostess was told what she wanted to eat.

While the Queen was famous for her thrift, with single-rod electric fireplaces and Tupperware containers, Charles models his domestic life rather on that of his grandmother, who had four houses with permanent staff, drank so much vintage pink champagne that it was Veuve Cliquot’s largest private client, and would call the staff at mealtimes by ringing a pearl Fabergé bell. Like hers, Charles’ house is overcrowded, and a friend calls him a hoarder. Clarence House and Birkhall, both remodeled for Charles by Robert Kime after the Queen Mother’s death, are a mess of rugs, cushions, tassels, garlands, borders, paintings, china, knickknacks, books and rows of silver-framed photos on tables. cloth covers.

Charles leads a life in the shadow of others: his mother, his first wife, and now his belligerent sons and glamorous daughters-in-law.

“What counts is perseverance,” he said in a speech 50 years ago, “even if you get frustrated ten or twenty times.” The only bad thing about this is that it requires effort, willpower and discipline.