King Charles III’s Controversial Past And Why He’s Unpopular

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King Charles III has succeeded Queen Elizabeth II on the throne following a lifetime of scrutiny as Britain’s longest serving heir-apparent.

Whereas the nationwide mourning interval for his mom and his coronation within the coming months will assist him to outline his picture as king, analyzing his a long time of controversy may supply some clues to how he may behave as sovereign.

The revelations of infidelity in his marriage to Princess Diana left him, and now-Queen consort, deeply unpopular. Whereas he has managed to regain some optimistic sentiment within the British public, he stays much less esteemed than many different members of the Royal household.

Certainly, one Ipsos poll confirmed in April 2022 that just about half of Britons suppose Charles ought to let his son Prince William be the following king. And YouGov polling ranks him because the seventh hottest royal—behind his mom, daughter-in-law Kate, son William, father Prince Philip, sister Princess Anne, and niece Zara Tindall. Amongst Millennial-age Britons, he ranks twelfth.

Learn extra: Mourners pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

Most lately, he has been embroiled in controversy over donations to his charities. In July, the Sunday Instances of London reported that the half brothers of September eleventh terrorist Osama bin Laden made a $1.2 million donation to the Prince of Wales’ Charitable Fund again in 2013. Charles’ official workplace Clarence Home stated the royal didn’t personally solicit the donation.

Nonetheless, the primary main brush with disapproving public opinion got here amid his marriage to Princess Diana—the 25th anniversary of whose death the world lately marked. A brand new HBO documentary The Princess exhibits archival footage of the duo touring Australia that implies he was jealous at how far more fashionable she was.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana attending a presidential banquet on the Blue Home on Nov. 3, 1992, in Seoul, South Korea, on their final official journey collectively.

Tim Graham Photograph Library—Getty Pictures

The dam broke when she referred to as him out for having an affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, Charles’ now-wife whom he met within the early Nineteen Seventies. “There have been three of us on this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” Diana stated in her well-known 1995 BBC interview.

Even his well-known stewardship of charity causes has not gone un-criticized. Whereas he has been lauded for his efforts to guard the setting and converse out about local weather change, scientists have additionally raised issues about different points Charles has championed. For instance, in 2019, after changing into a patron of a gaggle targeted on ​​homeopathic drugs, the Good Pondering Society, which promotes evidence-based science, referred to as him “anti-science.”

Learn extra: Queen Elizabeth II’s Death at Balmoral Has Major Implications for Scotland

However Robert Lacey, a biographer who was a historic guide to the Netflix present The Crown, argues that the royal was cautious concerning the causes he acquired concerned with, as he had the problem of ready within the wings for seven a long time and making a profession for himself within the meantime. Lacey, who spoke to TIME previous to Queen Elizabeth II’s dying, believes Charles steered away from “politically contentious areas” by concentrating on points that need to do with the countryside, ecology, and British heritage.

Maybe most related now that he’s king, Charles was also accused of attempting to influence the British government. In 2015, it was revealed that Charles acquired confidential papers on the interior workings of the British authorities that even elected ministers had not seen, prompting a senior Member of Parliament to name him Britain’s “greatest knowledgeable lobbyist.” The Guardian acquired 27 memos—dubbed the ’black spider memos’ due to Charles’ scrawl—that confirmed the royal engaged in private lobbying efforts to senior politicians a couple of vary of points from orders of army helicopters throughout the Iraq Struggle to “unlawful fishing of the Patagonian toothfish.” On the time, Clarence Home said it’s typical for heirs to the throne to be briefed on political subjects, however critics argued that members of the royal household ought to keep out of politics.

Given his activism on political points, it stays to be seen whether or not King Charles III might be a politically outspoken monarch. As James Vaughn, an skilled on British historical past on the College of Chicago, told Politico, “The query mark could be: Would he attempt to use his function within the unwritten structure to have extra affect over insurance policies and considering of [the British government] than in all probability his mom was ever keen to attempt to do?”

Now as king, scrutiny of Charles will solely heighten. However a remark he made to TIME in a 2013 profile of the royal might be directed towards anybody who questions whether or not he deserves his reign and is as much as the job: “Should you chuck away too many issues,” he instructed the journal, “you find yourself discovering there was worth in them.”

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Write to Olivia B. Waxman at olivia.waxman@time.com.



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