Charles III has been king for barely a week, and some critics are calling on him to vacate the throne in favor of the younger generation of Windsors.
Charles, the former Prince of Wales, became king upon the Sept. 8 death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, at age 96.
But observers have already started speculating on how lovely it would be if the 73-year-old stepped aside in favor of his 40-year-old son William — especially after thousands of well-wishers thronged to the late queen’s Sandringham estate on Thursday to pay their respects and offer condolences to William and his wife Kate, the new Prince and Princess of Wales.
Royal expert Daniela Elser put the moment in perspective for readers in a Friday column published at news.com.au.
“Let me be clear here,” Elser wrote. “This is rural Norfolk we are talking about, [111 miles] away from the capital, not Windsor which is just outside central London. The closest train station, Kings Lynn, is still a roughly 40-minute bus ride away from the [20,000-acre] royal estate.
“These people, from schoolchildren to pensioners, had managed to get themselves to the middle of nowhere to pay their respects and to catch a glimpse of the newbie Waleses.
“If ever there was a moment that should make Charles choke on his afternoon fruitcake, it’s this.”
The article appeared under the subheadline, “Remarkable new photos of Kate Middleton and Prince William spell bad news for King Charles, as he struggles to remain composed.”
It contrasted the jolly-holiday atmosphere surrounding William and Kate against the grim spectacle of Charles pitching a fit over things not going as he desired, such as when a pen started leaking while he was signing a document on Tuesday.
“It’s only one week into the job he has waited more than 50 years to do and he has already managed to have not one but two [tantrums] caught on video,” Elser observed.
Elser is not the only one who has noticed that the young Waleses are far more popular than the new king.
Conor Friedersdorf broached the subject in a Thursday article for The Atlantic, and he got right down to business: “If he lives as long as his mother did, he could spend more than two decades as monarch.
“But a more consequential use of Charles’s reign would be to rule briefly and abdicate at 75 — the age when British judges are compelled to retire from the bench — while touting the importance of passing the throne to Prince William in his son’s prime rather than his dotage.”
Such a move could be viewed, Friedersdorf said, as “a royal rebuke to the international trend toward gerontocracy, whereby leaders delay handing off power to the next generation long past what serves the public good.”
The Washington Post’s London correspondent, Karla Adam, wrote Wednesday that Charles has seen his approval ratings “shoot up dramatically” despite a few glitches, such as the pen incident, “small anti-monarchist protests, [and] while #NotMyKing has been trending on social media.”
That popularity is a relatively new thing, she said. “For the past two years, when pollsters asked, ‘Who Should Succeed as King‘ after the queen died, the preferred royal has been William,” Adam wrote.
However, she pointed out, in recent years the queen indicated her support for Charles’ accession.
“There are also laws around these things,” Adam added, “the most important being the 1701 Act of Settlement, which states that the monarch’s heir must be the monarch’s direct successor.”
Elser expressed a bit of sympathy for Elizabeth’s eldest son over his knack for constantly being outshone by other royals, from Elizabeth to Princess Diana and now William.
“To some degree, it’s hard not to feel a tad sorry for the bloke,” she wrote. “Charles has spent much of his life in the shadow of his mother, the perpetual understudy who the world never took particularly seriously.
“And he also ended up in the shadow of his wife, after the fawnlike teenager he picked as his bride turned out to be a media-savvy 20th century fury in a pie-frill collar.”
Even if Charles does not abdicate in favor of his son, Elser predicted neither he nor Queen Consort Camilla can “ever hope, even in their wildest dreams, to compete with [William and Kate’s] celebrity wattage.”
“For the King, it’s hard not to wonder how it must feel, after decades and decades of work and speeches and setting up charities, to now be facing coming off as second best, even as he is at the pinnacle.
“Deja vu Your Majesty?”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.