Nick Cohen is fed up with Charles Windsor’s meddling. He starts by pointing out that however dull the current queen may be, she does have the virtue of not meddling with the government.
The palace and the politicians expect a smooth succession to the reign of Charles III, even though he is a man who has spent his life demonstrating how woefully unqualified he is to be a constitutional king. A small measure of his failure lies in the BBC’s decision to postpone and possibly ban Reinventing the Royals, which
itwas due to be shown tonight. I can just about understand why Prince Charles wanted to stop a documentary about the PR tactics he employed to recover his reputation after the death of Princess Diana. It would have made him look like a politician running for office rather than an heir apparent, who expects to become sovereign of the United Kingdom and 15 other Commonwealth states by the modern equivalent of divine right.
…But, come on, this is the BBC, whose deference before crown and altar is an embarrassment. Reinventing the Royals is a straight documentary. Any intelligent PR would have told Charles to ignore the programme. Unfortunately, you never see intelligence and our future sovereign in the same room. True to form, the prince’s “people” have gone ape and turned a routine documentary into a cause celebre.
The affair shows what anyone who raises their eyes from the floor in the presence of royalty already knows. The future Charles III expects to be heeded, not scrutinised, and above all he expects to intervene in politics with a regularity and partisanship his mother never dared imitate or, as far as we know, ever wanted to imitate either.
Annnnnnd…he’s not supposed to do that.
But “supposed” is the operative word – it’s not possible to use anything stronger, because the UK doesn’t have a written constitution. Apparently this means that however not supposed to he is, Charles can carry right on acting like a real future king with real powers.
There’s no secret. His aides have announced that King Charles will “reshape the monarch’s role” and make “heartfelt interventions”.
Couldn’t he just become a third Koch brother instead?
A by no means exhaustive list of his political interventions includes: health – he forced ministers to listen to his gormless support for homeopathic treatments and every other variety of charlatanism and quackery; defence – he protested against cuts in the armed forces; justice – he complained about ordinary people’s access to law, or as he put it: “I dread the very real and growing prospect of an American-style personal injury culture”; political correctness – he opposes equality as I suppose a true royal must; GM foods – he thinks they’re dangerous, regardless of evidence; modern architecture – he’s against; and eco-towns – he’s for, as long as he has a say in their design.
He abuses his absurd and antiquated power. He has no shame, no modesty, no sense that he is not wise or clever, no awareness that his position is entirely arbitrary and unconnected to real merit or talent or utility.
After four generations of telling the British that the monarchy is a unifying force “above politics”, politicians do not even trouble to pretend that Charles III is anything other than a “player” with his own manifesto and prejudices. When the former attorney general Dominic Grieve tried to stop the Guardian finding out how the prince lobbies, he did not say that a neutral royal should be left alone. On the contrary, he said that the prince’s letters to ministers expressed his “most deeply held personal views and beliefs” and were in “many cases particularly frank”. They must be kept secret because publication would destroy the illusion of a royal neutrality no one in power thinks exists any more.
The UK needs an Edward Snowden. It needs someone to get all the letters to ministers by whatever means necessary and publish the fuck out of them.