King Charles III of Great Britain on his arrival at Buckingham Palace in London.
After living his whole life in the shadow of his mother the Queen, Charles Windsor today becomes king at the age of 73, making him the oldest British monarch to ascend the throne. Perceived as a cold and shy man, will he be able to rally his subjects around a thousand-year-old monarchy that he intends to modernize?
Born on November 14, 1948, Prince Charles Philip Arthur George was born at Buckingham Palace three years before his mother became queen in 1952. First in line to the throne, he had to wait 73 years before succeeding his mother. A role he has been preparing for all his life.
He will be officially proclaimed King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on Saturday morning, at St. James's Palace, London.
It's not a challenge in itself for the king, who will be 74 years old in a few weeks, it is simply the continuity of the monarchy , explained this morning Denis MacShane, former British Minister for European Affairs under Tony Blair, at the microphone of the program All morning.
The first member of the royal family to receive an education outside the palace walls, he studied history at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, where he also became the first member of the British royal family to get a university degree.
He then spent seven years in the Royal Navy, where he learned to fly helicopters. He ended his military career as commanding officer of HMS Bronington, a minesweeper, in 1976.
Queen Elizabeth II with her sons Charles and Andrew, her grandsons William and Harry and their wives, watch the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force from the balcony of Buckingham Palace, July 10, 2018.
While his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, observed a lifelong strict neutrality in matters of state, almost religiously refraining from intervening in the governance and major debates within her kingdom, Prince Charles , he spoke publicly on several occasions on political and societal issues.
Raised in front of television cameras and press photographers, he spoke several times in speeches and articles in newspapers including on climate change, architectural preservation, green energy and even alternative medicine.
A practice that clashed with the usual reserve of the Crown and that he does not regret. I always wonder what interference is, I always thought it was motivating, he said in 2018 documentary Prince, Son and Heir: Charles at 70.
“I've always been intrigued as to whether it's interference to worry about inner cities, as I did 40 years ago and what what was happening or not happening there, the conditions in which people lived. If it's interference, I'm very proud of it.
—Prince Charles, from the documentary Prince, Son and Heir: Charles at 70
He had, however, acknowledged during the same interview that once he was king, he could no longer express himself publicly in this way or interfere in politics because the role of sovereign is different from that of Prince of Wales.
They are not supposed to have political votes. They are not supposed to have political opinions. And the fact that he used, if you will, his political muscle is something he will have to be very careful with, lest it be deemed unconstitutional, warns historian Ed Owens, author by The Family Firm: Monarchy, Mass Media and the British Public, 1932-53.
A wise caveat in that Charles III's personal beliefs will certainly put to the test upon his arrival on the throne in a United Kingdom destabilized by Brexit and the economic crisis, where Conservative prime ministers have succeeded in recent months.
This is a heavy legacy for Charles III, who must convince to preserve the attachment of the British to the monarchy.
For example, he is opposed to shale gas extraction operations by fracking, while the new Prime Minister Liz Truss is very pro-fracking, underlines Denis MacShane. So, are we going to have a little tete-a-tete between the new head of government and the new king? It will be interesting to find out.
Yes there will probably be disagreements, but do not exaggerate. It is the elected government that decides policy here and unless there is a change of government, it is the position of Ms Truss that will prevail, recalls the former British Minister for European Affairs under Tony Blair.
Regarding the new sovereign's failing popularity, Mr MacShane recalls that Queen Elizabeth II has not always been popular either, especially following the death of Princess Diana, he said. recalled, and the institution still survived.
The challenge facing England and the United Kingdom is first of all to keep the United Kingdom united, because the Scots want to leave, to separate thanks to Brexit […] and the king cannot do anything about that, believes Denis MacShane.
There is a huge problem with the economy, inflation now at 11% and 12%, thousands of households that are below the poverty line. There is a problem with the price of electricity, the war in Ukraine, a police force much criticized for its racism and sexism…
Two days ago, Tuesday, Ipsos published a big poll here where 69% of Britons think the country is in decline. […] That is the problem and it is not the king who is very old who will solve all this.
With information from La Presse canadienne, Agence France-Presse, and Reuters