Prince Charles says he won’t be a meddling king: ‘I’m not that stupid’

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales visits Tretower Court on July 5, 2018 in Crickhowell, Wales. Chris Jackson / Getty Images
  • Prince Charles is turning 70 next week.
  • In a BBC documentary celebrating his birthday, the heir to the throne said that he would not be a “meddling” king following his succession because he is “not stupid.”
  • The prince has campaigned on a number of issues over the course of his 47-year royal career, including the environment, architecture, and genetically modified crops.
  • His comments will likely appease British politicians who have worried about the heir’s activism in the past.
  • The Queen has stuck to convention over the course of her entire reign by steering clear of partisan issues.

Prince Charles turns 70 on Thursday November 14.

As time goes on, eyes are turning to the heir apparent to try and glean what kind of king he will be.

This week, Charles put many minds in British politics to rest when he assured that he would not be a “meddling” king.

Speaking as part of a BBC documentary to mark his 70th birthday, The Prince of Wales told filmmakers that he would rein in his public campaigning when he becomes sovereign.

The prince has campaigned on a number of issues over the course of his 47-year royal career, including the environment, wildlife preservation, and religious tolerance. He was recently awarded the GQ Editor’s Lifetime Achievement Award For Services To Philanthropy.

However, Charles told the BBC that his endeavours were not appropriate for the monarch.

“You can’t be the same as the sovereign if you’re the Prince of Wales or the heir,” he said. “But the idea somehow that I’m going to go on in exactly the same way if I have to succeed, is complete nonsense because the two situations are completely different.”

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Children in Caerphilly, Wales, wave Welsh flags on a visit by Prince Charles. Getty Images

He went on: “You only have to look at Shakespeare plays, Henry V or Henry IV part one and two, to see the change that can take place. Because if you become the sovereign then you play the role in the way that it is expected.

“So, clearly I won’t be able to do the same things I’ve done as heir. So, of course, you operate within the constitutional parameters. But it’s a different function. I think people have forgotten that the two are very different.”

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Prince Charles has been accused of meddling in the past for his outspoken views on architecture, planning, and genetically modified crops. The Sunday Times once suggested that measures were underway to “allow King Charles III to speak out on matters of national and international importance in ways that at the moment would be unthinkable,” a suggestion that was met with great disdain in parliament by those who feared an “activist king.”

Queen Elizabeth II has stuck to convention over the course of her entire reign by steering clear of such partisan issues.

However, Charles has now put those fears to bed, saying his lobbying will not continue as monarch.

“I’m not that stupid,” he said. “I do realise that it is a separate exercise being sovereign. So, of course, I understand entirely how that should operate.”

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Prince Charles with his sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Documentary filmmaker John Bridcut said that Charles preferred to think of his “meddling” as motivation.

“If it’s meddling to worry about the inner cities as I did 40 years ago, then if that’s meddling I’m proud of it,” he said.

Bridcut said of the future king: “People who think he’s hanging around, longing to be king, are very mistaken.

“It’s not something he’s dying to assume because inevitably it will only arise after the death of his mother.”

Charles’ wife the Duchess of Cornwall added in the film that Charles “knows his destiny” and that the responsibility of the throne is not weighing on his shoulders: “It’s just something that’s going to happen,” she said.

Elsewhere in the documentary, Prince William, second in line to the throne, said that while his father was brilliant, he wished he would spend more time with his grandchildren George and Charlotte: “We need him there as much as possible.”

“Prince, Son and Heir, Charles at 70” will be broadcast on BBC One on Thursday night at 9 p.m. GMT.