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Charles finally becomes king

Charles, Prince of Wales has waited nearly his entire life to succeed his mother, Queen Elizabeth II – Copyright AFP Money SHARMA

Bridget DUSSO

Queen Elizabeth II’s eldest son Charles, Prince of Wales, has finally become king. But at 73, the focus of his reign will be his age – and the decline of the British monarchy’s influence around the world.

Charles has spent virtually his entire life as an heir and has become a famous figure in his own right, even as he starts a new job at an age when most people are retired.

But in stark contrast to the neutrality his mother observed, he was at times controversial because of his strong views, which made him a more outspoken and divisive figure.

While Princess Elizabeth became Queen at the age of 25 with massive popular support in a Britain recovering from World War II, the public has had decades to form its opinion – good or bad – about Charles.

According to one YouGov poll from May 2022, his approval rating was 56 percent, much lower than that of the Queen (81 percent), his eldest son Prince William (77 percent) and William’s wife Catherine (76 percent).

Camilla – Charles’s second wife – lagged behind him with a score of 48%.

Since the death of his father Prince Philip in April 2021 and his mother’s declining health, Charles has become noticeably more visible, bringing his inner circle closer to Camilla, his younger brother Edward, William and Kate.

“Whatever happens, he won’t have a long reign and it will be difficult for him,” royal writer Phil Dampier said.

“But he’s known about it for a long time and I think people will now start looking at William and Kate in the future,” he told AFP.

— Queen Camilla —

Born November 14, 1948, Charles became heir to the throne at the age of three years and three months.

His first official engagements took place in the 1970s, and his role as heir apparent was primarily to support his mother “in her role as the focal point of national pride, unity and loyalty”.

He has greeted dignitaries on her behalf, attended state dinners, traveled as her overseas representative to over 100 countries, and presented honors on her behalf.

The world knows him best not only from his fairy tale wedding to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, but also from their public estrangement and divorce in the 1990s.

But while this solidified public opinion against him for some, Charles was largely exonerated after marrying Camille – and proved right in his early warnings about the environment that initially called him a weirdo.

A supporter of sustainability, alternative medicine and horticulture – so much so that he once admitted to talking to his plants – since 2007 Charles has published his own carbon footprint.

He leads or is involved with over 420 charities, including the Prince’s Trust, which has helped more than a million disadvantaged young people since its inception in 1976.

But in recent months, his former top aides have been embroiled in donation scandals, sparking a police investigation.

In 2022, the Queen settled years of speculation about the name of Charles’ second wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

Theoretically, she would always be queen consort.

But Camilla, who married Charles in a civil ceremony in 2005, chose not to assume the title of Princess of Wales given its association with Diana, who died in 1997.

Instead, she said she intended to become a “Princess Consort” for the first time in British history.

But the queen said in a message marking her 70th birthday that she “sincerely wishes” Camilla to be known as queen consort when Charles becomes king, effectively giving her a seal of approval.

– King Charles III? –

In accordance with the Latin saying “Rex nunquam moritur” – the king never dies – there is no interregnum, and accession occurs immediately.

There has been much speculation over the years as to which name he would choose: Charles Philip Arthur George has four to choose from.

And while he is not required to do so, he will most likely become Charles III, making him the first king of that name to have sat on the British throne since 1685.

Royal writer Bob Morris said there could still be a surprise, but it’s unlikely.

“We expect that he will probably stay with Charles and that he will prefer a faster and smaller coronation,” he told AFP.

That question will be answered when the Accession Council, the ceremonial body that meets after the death of a monarch, proclaims him king at St James’s Palace in central London.

The coronation, a unique ceremony with a centuries-old tradition, should take place in the coming weeks, once the shock of the queen’s death has passed.

The Queen herself was crowned in June 1953, about 16 months after she was proclaimed Queen following the death of her father, King George VI.

Morris called the event “the last imperial hurrah” when about 8,250 people gathered in Westminster Abbey to watch her coronation, and millions more on television.

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