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Sunday, November 16, 2008

More than a King?

In a piece that undoubtedly counts as testing the mood of the nation today's Sunday Times tells us that members of Prince Charles’s inner circle are preparing the ground for him to break the monarch’s traditional vow of silence when he is king.

The Prince's friend and biographer, Jonathan Dimbleby says that “there are now discreet moves afoot to redefine the future role of the sovereign so that it would allow King Charles III to speak out on matters of national and international importance in ways that at the moment would be unthinkable”.

“To breach this convention, however cautiously, would represent a seismic shift in the role of the sovereign,” says Dimbleby. It “has the potential to be constitutionally and politically explosive”.

He writes that Charles, as king, would not speak out as provocatively as he does now on subjects ranging from education to climate change.

“But those who believe that Britain needs an ‘active’ sovereign for the 21st century claim that it would be a waste of his experience and accumulated wisdom for it to be straitjacketed within the confines of an annual Christmas message or his weekly audience with the prime minister,” says Dimbleby.

“Prince Charles, they continue, would inherit a very different world from that bequeathed to his mother. Because the ideological chasms of the 20th century have been bridged, today’s politicians are driven to compete for power by packaging together marginally different varieties of the same produce as they scrabble for votes on the centre ground. It is thus virtually impossible to have any horizon beyond the next election. As a result, there is a vacuum of national leadership.

“In such circumstances, they argue, it would be missing a trick for him to be required to take a vow of monarchical silence. Believing that he has his finger on the popular pulse, they think that he would be uniquely placed to offer reassurance and hope to the British people.”

Dimbleby reveals: “This is not an issue that the prince likes to discuss in such terms even with his most trusted intimates.” But “he has latterly intimated to one or two of his confidants that he would like his present role to evolve so that once he inherits the crown, his knowledge and experience, his contacts and his unique ability to ‘convene’ others in the national interest could be put to good use rather than go to waste”.

Writing in today’s News Review, Dimbleby says Charles would speak “for the nation and to the nation” in a role similar to that of the Irish and German presidents.

Of course the big difference between the Monarch and the Irish and German Presidents is that the latter are elected. If Charles feels that he wants to speak his mind as head of state then he should stand for election like everybody else.

He may be in line to succeed to this position by an accident of his birth but that does not give him the authority to contradict those who have been voted into office by the people. Nor does it give him any legitimacy to 'speak for the nation'.

If there really is a 'vacuum of national leadership' then an elected Presidency in place of an hereditary monarchy might be one way to bridge that gap. If Charles stands for such a post then we will see how much he really has his finger on the popular pulse.
I don't think he will be called "King Charles the Third" as no Irish person can pronounce the "Th" of "Third". They always drop the "h"! It is rumoured he may use the name "George", if and when he ever becomes King.
Charles is elected in a way, through popular invitation. If we did not want a Monarchy it would have been removed through a referendum years ago.

I find it sad that the Lib Dems only want the kind of Democracy that will give them bigger electoral victories.
spot on Peter, were charles to speak out (not that I think that may folk listen) this could be seen as an outdated institution trying to recover some of the ground it has lost to 'the people' - and that would make the monarchy move as an institution from deplorable to intolerable.
I don't see that it makes any difference whether he speaks out as King or Prince of Wales as long as he doesn't abuse his actual power as a monarch and no, I don't think using the power of your tongue is an abuse.
The popularity of the Queen Mother (Elizabeth Bowes Lyons)was down to the fact that she had the good sense to keep her mouth shut.

It will be interesting to see how unpopular he's going to make himself with politicians of all colours in addition to the general public; let him carry on!

The more he flaps his gums, the closer we will become to being a republic.

Oliver Cromwell had the right idea with the first King Charles.
If Prince Charles wishes to remove the convention whereby the monarch remains silent on issues of controversy, he also needs to accept that other constitutional conventions must fall into abeyance too.

For example, at present, Parliament is forbidden from questioning the affairs of the sovereign. But if he wants to participate in public debate, why should anyone tolerate him placing himself beyond scrutiny? Why not require him to submit himself to scrutiny by parliamentary select committees?

He cannot pick and choose which bits of being a public figure he likes and which bits he doesn't. If he thinks his "wisdom" is so great, let it be tested.
If you go to a remote chapel between Pontardawe and Ammanford North of Swansea, high up on the mountains of Mawr area you will find in the grave yard of CAPEL BARAN (chapel)old graves that are more or less all monoglot inscripted in Cymraeg (Welsh). There's one fairly modern one in shiny black inscribed in Latin. This is where Thomas Plant of Mawr in Swansea was buried only a few years ago. A very elderly man who was a reclusive Englishman, ex Royal Air Force. He had lived here for about fifty years in a remote derelict smallholding. He was a very old family friend of the Bowes Lyons clan and often talked about the Queen Mother's hidden relative locked away for decades in a mental asylum - decades before it was exposed in the press. "Yes, the Queen Mother did keep her mouth shut", old Thomas Plant would confirm that. However, she opened it frequently (rather like Father Jack in Father Ted) whenever anyone mentioned Gin and Horse Racing. Yes - we got a lot of Bowes Lyons and Royal gossip here from old Thomas Plant. Now his Grave Stone is a secret to us - as we cannot read Latin.
I actually applauded that blog post Peter. Sums my feelings up exactly.

Out of respect and age, I have no problem with the Queen continuing until her death. That however, is where I strongly feel the monarchy and the whole antiquated system should end.

It is an utter abortion that in a civilised democratic society, we still pick one family to live in the lap of luxury on the taxpayer.

We need an elected president, an elected house of lords, and proportional representation to ensure that every vote actually counts, and the strength of your vote is not determined by your post code.
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