As the heir to Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III spent his life cultivating a range of interests and passions, from architecture to the environment. However, now at the age of 74, he finds himself in the position of ensuring a successful, albeit tricky, transition before the crown passes to his eldest son and heir, Prince William.
Since his mother’s death in September 2022, Charles has thrown himself into the largely ceremonial role of a politically neutral and uncontroversial head of state, despite his record of often outspoken views. He has been a visible presence in all four nations of the United Kingdom, pushing for unity after a turbulent recent past marked by Brexit and calls for Scottish independence.
Charles desires a more modern, open monarchy that keeps the ancient institution relevant, particularly to younger Britons, and as republican sentiment mounts in the 14 other countries outside the UK where he is also king. He also heads the 56-nation Commonwealth grouping, which comprises about a quarter of the world’s population, and calls for unity there, too, to help tackle “the most pressing issues of our time,” including climate change.
Despite living for 70 years in his mother’s shadow, Charles has shown himself to be much more accessible, at ease smiling and shaking hands with crowds at public events. He has hosted European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and celebrated the second anniversary of his wife Queen Consort Camilla’s “The Reading Room” book club on Instagram.
However, Charles has not been without his challenges. His youngest son, Harry, has stolen some of the limelight with the publication of his autobiography “Spare” and a Netflix series. Harry’s score-settling has grabbed headlines just as Charles has been seeking to stamp his authority. Some royal walkabouts have also seen anti-monarchy protests, including egg-throwing.
On the popularity front, Charles lags behind his mother and William, according to pollsters YouGov. But his polling ratings are respectable, and he has them because he is conscientious, says royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams. The King will be respected for that, but also because he brings personal convictions to the job and will find subtle ways to communicate the importance of saving the planet for succeeding generations, adds Peter Ricketts, the UK’s former ambassador to Paris.
In conclusion, as Charles III takes on the role of the king in a tricky transition, he has shown himself to be a modern monarch who desires to keep the ancient institution relevant to younger Britons and the Commonwealth. While he faces challenges from his youngest son and anti-monarchy protests, Charles is respected for his conscientiousness and personal convictions, particularly in tackling the pressing issue of climate change