Prince Charles: is activist heir planning a 'quiet coup'?
Constitutional experts say royal take-over could pave the way for a more opinionated monarchy
A QUIET coup is said to be under way at the House of Windsor, with some royal commentators suggesting a more opinionated monarchy is on its way as the Queen, who turns 88 in April, gradually shifts responsibility to younger generations of the royal family.
Prince Charles will accompany the Queen on the beaches of Normandy in June in the most high-profile example yet of him sharing official duties with his mother, while the Prince's press office is due to be merged with the Queen's to form a single team at Buckingham Palace, overseen by one of Charles's staff.
The monarchy is moving towards "what is in effect a job-share", says the Sunday Times.
Any official announcement that the Queen is stepping back from frontline royal events would raise difficult questions over protocol and succession, says the paper. Instead, Palace sources speak of a "handover period": a process designed to be a "gentle glide".
The Independent suggests Prince Charles is preparing the ground to become a more "outspoken and controversial monarch" than his mother.
The Queen has studiously avoided expressing controversial opinions during her 62 years on the throne, but the Prince is apparently under no obligation to follow suit.
"This is a constitutional convention which can be changed by the simple fact of a monarch doing things differently," says Colin Talbot, professor of government at Manchester University. "There is nothing written down which says the monarch cannot express opinions. Charles could quite simply be a more outspoken monarch."
From environmental issues to the efficacy of homeopathy, Prince Charles has not held back from making his views known in the past.
"The prospect of an activist monarch turning Buckingham Palace into a royal think tank with an eclectic agenda and a direct line to Downing Street nonetheless remains remote," says The Independent. "But there is a growing expectation that the reticence of the New Elizabethan era may come to an abrupt end with the advent of King Charles III."
The Daily Beast describes the Prince's "stealth take over" as a "quiet coup". It points out that the Queen knighted her private secretary Sir Christopher Geidt in the latest New Year's Honours list, it was his reward for ushering in "a new approach to constitutional matters... [and] the preparation for the transition to a change of reign".
Meanwhile, one royal insider told the Mail on Sunday: "There is a feeling that Charles has been given an inch and taken a mile. Having said that, this would never have been done without the full co-operation of the Queen and Sir Christopher Geidt." ·