Can the King we now have dissociate himself from the opinions of the Prince he was?
I first heard this witticism on the lips of Ronald Reagan. It’s a piece of valuable wisdom for anyone in a position of authority and responsibility. For a British monarch, it might well serve as a job description.
Our late queen understood that her duty was to be, not to do. Of course, she led an astonishingly busy life, but managed to do so without ever saying or doing anything that could be interpreted as an attempt to exercise executive power. She thus remained able to embody her realms, untainted by their political life.
Elizabeth II ascended as a young woman, shortly after a long war in which the country had been run by a coalition, and in a time when, even if she had expressed political opinions, the press would have been far less likely to disseminate them than would now be the case.
Charles III ascends after a longish life, during which, if he has not courted controversy, he has certainly not been at great pains to avoid it. Many of the topics on which he has allowed his opinions to become public are those, such as ‘climate change’, whose enthusiasts smugly – and wrongly – believe are beyond dispute, except in the minds of evil ‘deniers’, whose opinions do not deserve the respect of monarchical impartiality.
Charles has insisted that he will not be ‘so stupid’ as to persist, as king, in the kind of commentary in which he has indulged as Prince of Wales. This assumption, that he can begin his reign with a tabula rasa, strikes me as naïve. For it must be inevitable that the attitudes and opinions for which the prince was known will be imputed to the king he has become.
The scandalous improvidence with which governments, both here in Australia and in the UK have conducted their energy policies has brought into sharp focus the tissue of counter-scientific lies which propelled it. Already, the Truss government is expediting new North Sea drilling, and sweeping aside the mendacious objections of the green blob which have hitherto stymied fracking. So far, these measures have been painted as topical responses to the immediate crisis occasioned by Putin’s war, and not as permanent renunciation of the cult of global warming.
But it cannot be too long before the science of anthropogenic global warming itself is openly challenged. Being essentially scientific gibberish, this is something it is far too weak to survive. As the cult of computer modelling yields to the rigour of actual observation, increasing numbers of Charles III’s subjects will wake up to the fact that they, and their society, have been the victims of a decades-long con trick which is now seriously endangering their security, and they will not be happy with those who foisted it upon them.
It will not be good, in those circumstances, to have on the throne a king who has nailed his colours to its mast.