Is it time for Prince Charles to become king?

Sep 9, 2015

Queen Elizabeth set to overtake Queen Victoria's record on the throne, with no sign of abdication

Chris Jackson/WPA Pool/Getty Images

As the Queen becomes the country's longest-reigning monarch, is it time for her to abdicate and allow Charles to become king?

The Prince of Wales, who has been waiting first in line since February 1952, became the longest-serving heir to the throne in April 2011.

When he turned 65 two years ago, there was an open acknowledgement that he would increasingly take on more of his mother's duties, with some constitutional experts foreseeing an "unofficial co-regency".

In terms of precedent, there is nothing stopping Charles ascending the throne. But he would be the oldest person to do so. The record was previously held by William IV who was 64 years, ten months and five days old when he became king in June 1830 following the death of his father George III.

Surveys have consistently suggested the British public are not keen on the idea of Charles as king and even less keen on the idea of Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, as Queen. A poll in April found that only 53 per cent of people liked Prince Charles, compared to 77 per cent who liked Queen Elizabeth. Another poll carried out earlier this month found that only 25 per cent of people wanted Charles to be the next monarch, compared to 53 per cent who opted for his son Prince William.

The problem, the Daily Mail's Allison Pearson has said, is that the Queen has done her job too well. Who on earth can follow such an act, she asks. "Not Prince Charles, I suspect. We know far too much about his foibles and past errors to revere him as we revere his mother."

In The Independent, John Rentoul warns that Charles's succession will change the popularity of the monarchy as a whole. "The Queen is respected; Charles is not," says Rentoul. "His well-meaning activism has given him a reputation as an interfering bossy pants. If Charles has any sense, he will scale back the royal operation, move it out of the big houses and try to promote equality of respect among all citizens."

Graham Smith, a spokesman for Republic, which campaigns for an elected head of state, believes an "activist" King Charles would be "intolerable" for democracy. "Charles is a very good advert for why the monarchy is a bad idea. The monarch has power, access and influence, and is completely beyond the reach of democratic accountability."

Nevertheless, royal insiders say the Queen regards her position as a job for life and is not going to budge. "She's not staying on because of any concern about [Charles's] abilities as a king. The Queen simply feels she must do her duty, and she's never even contemplated abdication," says Sarah Bradford, author of Queen Elizabeth II: Her Life in Our Times.

Harry Mount, author of How England Made the English, says the Queen "could, theoretically, abdicate tomorrow if she wanted". But he says she won't because we don't want her to. "Her constancy and steadfast adherence to a job she believes is for life instils in us a nation-defining sense of confidence," he says. "The longer our Queen stays on the throne, the more secure we all are."

The Guardian's Polly Toynbee has another idea: "let Queen Elizabeth reign until the end – then stop this charade". She adds: "Imagine how abolishing the monarchy would open all the dusty constitutional cupboards to the sunlight of reform. Let her reign as long as she lives – but let her be Elizabeth the Last."

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If he was the man he likes to tell us he is he would step aside in favour of William who will be a far better king than Charles ever will.

So, you want to have a monarchy but you want to have a choice in who your head of state is?

here we go again the media trying to run the country by reporters and staff of newspapers if they done their own job and leave the establishment to the people what a great world we would live in ! oh my goodness ! no scandel mongering
the prince and all the other princes work every day from morning to night and if they frown a little like the rest of us do it will be covered by some sleasy photographer you can probably guess i am a royalist and 81 years old and cameron always ready to protect his ministers and set himself up as judge and jury before any trial!!!!should not get carried away with all his riches and temporary !!!! position

He should step aside in favour of his son. The Duke of Windsor had to abdicate in order to marry a divorced woman, so should prince Charles.

King Edward VIII abdicated in order to marry a divorcee. Prince Charles has already done that.
Another idiot.

Yep, he married the divorcee, but he still has designs on being king. Not may of us want him.

wiliam must be the nxst king and his fit good looking wife as charles is a prat

Charles is the next king, regardless of whether you want him or not.

If you have a monarchy, you do not get a choice in who your head of state is! Now who is the prat?

TRU DAT! Wouldn't be the first waste of space we've had on the throne. Besides I'm never going to be important enough to meet him so I can happily dislike him from a distance.

Prince Charles has the right to the throne by virtue of being born into the royal family, regardless of his incompetence.
He does not have to be liked, he just has to be royal.

King Edward VIII was royal, but he still had to abdicate so that he could marry a divorcee. Prince Charles should do the same. He wouldn't even be prince of Wales without King Edward VIII abdication.

Prince Charles has already married a divorcee and he is still first in line to the throne. Without the abdication crisis of 1936, William would not be the future king.
If you have a monarchy, you do not get a choice. If you want a choice then you want a republic.

I hit the vote down instead of the reply, sorry about that.
What you say is true, but there is always hope that his mother will outlive him. We have had adulterous bigots on the throne in the past. It is to be hoped we wont in the future. Come to think of it I might not even be here me self. Now there's a happy thought.

There is every chance that his mother will not outlive him. As I said, Charles is the next king, not on the basis of character but just because of the family he was born into.

...b****r off Hilal Hussain - this is OUR monarchy - perhaps you might like to explain to me how an Asian taxi driver, in Southall, Middlesex is allowed to drive around in his cab, displaying a poster which says - "you have your monarchy - we have your country!" on! Short memories make for dangerous decisions. Our Royals stood by their subjects during the dark days of World War 2 - they have done far more for this country than any number of self-interested, slippery and mendacious politicians.

Cameron's decisions to meddle in Libya and Syria (the latter, thankfully, thwarted by a rare outbreak of democracy at Westminster) simply serve to illustrate what a political gadfly he is - he ignores the lessons of TWO Iraq wars and one, interminable, intervention in Afghanistan, chasing an enemy more slippery than a blob of Mercury (ask the Russians and then go back in history to the previous Anglo /Afghan Wars - Afghans 3, Britain 0).

"Loyalty", is an alien concept to boy-blunder Cameron - witness his treatment of Andrew Mitchell and his cynical manouevres over a Euro referendum.

I was born and raised in Britain and my passport states that I am a British citizen. If this is YOUR monarchy then you should at least know how it works, and that is you get the next in line whether you want that person or not, but then again racists are renowned for having small brains. you know Charles intimately then? seems that racism and judgementalism are popular exports of Pakistan - in many and varied intolerant and violent forms, including ghettoisation, forced/sham marriages, failure to sincerely condemn terrorism on our streets and forcing Moslem views and mosques on our over-tolerant society.

Regardless of whether or not you hold a British Passport you reside in this country and you enjoy the right to freedom of speech -an alien concept in Pakistan.

Witness the Taliban's attempted murder of Malala, the schoolgirl gunned down by the Taliban.

You enjoy the right to denigrate Prince Charles - have you ever met him? Have you ever spoken with him? Or do you think that you know him because you have "read" about him in the media - wonderful!

Perhaps if you don't particularly like our Royal Family you might like to choose another country that will tolerate your views?

If you had read carefully you would know that it was in fact the first poster who was denigrating Prince Charles, claiming that William would make a better king thus undermining the core principle of hereditary monarchy which you clearly support.

Actually, William IV ascended to the throne on the death of his brother, George IV; who it was that actually succeeded Geo. III, following the latter's death, on 29 Oct 1820

Actually, Bilal, I am given to understand that the word "king" derives from the same root as the word "can" - the king was someone who CAN. In Anglo-Saxon times, apparently, the king was voted in - that is, the people decided who was the most capable candidate to be king. It was NOT hereditary. In subsequent centuries, there was an ongoing battle between the aristos and monarchical types over this - which had some bearing, of course, on the Civil War. My main point here is that the idea (or practice) of a monarchy does not in the least include the prescription that it be hereditary.

Bilal: "...regardless of his incompetence."
Quite untrue, though diehard monarchists may try to convince you otherwise

Bilal: "If you have a monarchy, you do not get a choice."
Completely untrue, as I've already indicated.

"If you want a choice then you want a republic."
As it happens, I do, but with Jesus as King

"My main point here is that the idea (or practice) of a monarchy does not in the least include the prescription that it be hereditary."
In the case of the British monarchy, it does.

I agree with that, 'whocanibe'. He is a divorcee and so is the woman that he married!! If the Duke of Windsor hadn't had to abdicate, we would have been following a different line of royalty!!

Thank you scrumpy.

We're not idiots, we just don't want a bigot on the throne. Don't forget he would be head of the church of England. I thought the church didn't recognise divorce, or have they changed their laws to accommodate an adulterer?

You are an idiot if you did not know that having a monarchy means you do not get a choice in whose backside sits on the throne.