Prince Charles: is activist heir planning a 'quiet coup'?

Prince Charles

Constitutional experts say royal take-over could pave the way for a more opinionated monarchy

LAST UPDATED AT 12:11 ON Tue 21 Jan 2014

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." · 

Disqus - noscript

Let it happen PLEASE. This will ensure so much controversy that at long long last we might see the end of the bleeding monarchy/

Why does a man who is widely regarded as a dim wit think he has a right to use his position to peddle his opinions?

He needs more than a sock in his mouth; he needs a sock inside a size 12 boot.

It doesn't matter what we think really does it. The monarchy is hereditary and they can organise it to suit themselves, it's their job not ours. If Charles takes on more responsibility (he has already), it's not a coup, and theres' nothing to criticise because the Queen probably needs help now she is elderly! Magazines and journalists who write this stuff have ideas above their station. If they are republicans, they should say so instead of being so mealy mouthed. If they are monarchists, they should start showing respect.

You seem to be suggesting violence. That is no solution to your critique.

Charles will bring about the end of the monarchy,he is an opinionated,pompous ass,the only way the monarchy survives is if it skips to William.

Possibly LES - but I don't think the Monarchy is sustainable in a modern world for that much longer. There is too much bad exposure via the IT and so on.

...it is not so much the Monarchy that I am uneasy with - after all, the cement of the Commonwealth has been the Queen, for the past 60 years, and that has been a source of national pride and prestige.

I am uneasy with the various hangers-on to the Monarchy - minor lords and ladies who, probably, none of us in the real world have ever heard of and probably never will - these are the sons and daughters of "bankers, diplomats, judges, landed gentry" etc who have set themselves above and apart from the rest of us in society, providing very little input to our national lives and doing precious few "good works".

Charles, William, Harry and Princess Anne, along with some of the minor Royals, do pull their weight to an enormous extent - I can't recall that many of our leftie "luvvies" have put themselves out to do charitable works - they are more intent on self-preening, gong and Bafta-chasing glory.

Harry is, after all, not so much of the personal disaster-zone that he threatened to be not too long ago - he genuinely loves his soldier comrades and he goes to great efforts to help our injured veterans - how many of our leftie luvvies have done anything like the amount of work that he has on behalf of "Help for Heroes"?

So, my comment could be distilled into "like them or not, and you don't have to - just consider and compare the amount of sheer hard graft that our Royal family have put in on this nation's behalf - and, yes, like you and me - they are human, with all the human frailties that beset our species".

I'm an expat Northern Spirit and I so agree with your statements. There's lots of venom towards Charles, but his ideas about architecture and organic gardening are really good. And lets not forget the royal family has used homeopathy for years. Charles got found out because of our wired world but obviously he's a passionate guy and may surprise people with his constructive thoughts about the environment, etc.

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.