Charles has been the heir apparent ever since his mother ascended the throne in 1952. At 72, he has secured the title of the oldest heir and longest-serving heir apparent in British history — but he has not spent those decades idly. A prominent environmentalist who has occasionally been criticised for stepping into political spheres, the Prince of Wales has divided the nation for years.
Just 47 percent of Britons have a positive opinion of him according to YouGov’s latest polls, a number which could drop following the poor depiction of him in Netflix series, The Crown.
However, Charles is not impatient to take the throne, according to royal insiders.
Commentator Caroline Davies explained: “Those around Charles detect no sign of any ‘at last’ sentiment.
“It is not that he does, or does not, aspire to be King.
“Charles sees the role of the sovereign as something one is, not something one does.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, at his investiture in 1969
Charles has been the heir apparent since 1952
“Like those before him, one occupies that space — for however long or short a time.”
The Queen is currently 94, but has always promised to reign for her entire life.
The Palace has also denied claims that she intends to step down when she turns 95 and make Charles the regent.
During a BBC interview to celebrate his 70th birthday, Charles explained that he does not intend to be a “meddling monarch”.
He said: “I do realise that it is a separate exercise being sovereign.”
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Charles at his investiture as the Prince of Wales in 1969
He also acknowledged that “if you become the sovereign then you play the role in the way that it is expected”, quashing fears that he would interfere in political issues as King.
On top of fears that he is a “meddler”, Netflix’s latest season of The Crown has revived the most turbulent period of Charles’ life — his marriage to Princess Diana.
The heir comes off as cold and unloving towards the innocent People’s Princess who struggles to find her footing in the royal world — especially as her husband continues to have a torrid affair with the married Camilla Parker Bowles.
As noted in the New York Post, the latest season makes “Britain’s next king suddenly look less like a nice boy trying to please his mummy and more like Henry VIII”.
It added that “for Charles this is a very real crisis”, explaining: “This downturn could unleash a popular old idea: Skip Charles and give the top job to Prince William.”
It has sparked a wave of backlash towards the heir on social media, with many royal fans siding with Diana and speaking out against Charles and his now-wife, Camilla.
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Diana and Charles at their 1981 wedding
Diana and Charles’ fallout diminished the Prince of Wales’ reputation significantly
However, on The Crown’s official podcast former royal press secretary Dickie Arbiter pulled the drama apart.
He claimed: “It’s just sensationalising, making Charles and Camilla out to be the villains. Charles is portrayed as vicious. He’s not vicious.”
He also voiced concerns that “the average person will see it as gospel”, when the writer Peter Morgan has actually exercised his creative licence throughout the drama.
Others expressed fears that it was confusing fiction with fact — either way, there’s no doubt that the show has revived hostility towards Charles not seen since Diana was alive.
The Prince of Wales himself has not watched it, according to sources, but his friends have claimed it is “trolling on a Hollywood budget”.
The quantity of royal sources who have spoken out against the show also shows the fears behind Palace walls that the drama could denigrate Charles’ reputation.
The Crown depicts the turbulent marriage between Diana and Charles
Many fear that the drama could also have prevented any hopes of Camilla being crowned Queen consort when her husband ascends the throne.
By extension, royal fans loyal to the Prince of Wales have questioned if it is wise for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to continue with their historic multi-million deal with Netflix, which they signed earlier this year.
Charles is already set to bring some controversy when his reign begins, as he intends to introduce some major changes to the Royal Family.
It’s thought he wants to slim-down the monarchy to just its main figures, meaning his immediate family and heirs.
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Some have also speculated that the Prince of Wales has more control behind the scenes than realised in the wake of Prince Philip’s 2017 retirement and as the Queen gradually slows down from public life.
Insiders claim he was pulling the strings behind Prince Andrew’s decision to step down from his public duties last November, after the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.
Charles was also a key figure in outlining Meghan and Harry’s departure from the royal frontline, and is thought to have provided them with funding during their first few months of independence earlier this year.
Ms Davies also pointed out that he is thinking of the future, too.
Writing in The Guardian in 2018, she explained: “He consults more than ever with William, keenly aware that the two will help shape the monarchy for future decades.”