by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
The engagement of Prince William of Wales and the comely commoner Kate Middleton has caused a long simmering question to flare up again. Will Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, stand down in favor of the lovely couple?
Those who advocate such an unprecedented event base their case on the following points:
* Charles is uninspiring, eccentric, even odd.
* Charles will be "too old" at his accession to have a meaningful, effective reign.
* By his caddish treatment of his wife, Diana, Princess of Wales, he forfeited the affection and respect of the nation... and should therefore lose the throne.
* His son William and his winsome Kate are young, popular, already national icons. As a result, it makes more sense for them to reign... than the shop-worn Charles and his frumpish Duchess Camilla.
What do the people think?
An October, 2010 poll of 2,012 adults by ComRes shows support for changing the order of succession. 25 percent of those polled say that Charles should make way for Wills and Kate. The younger the respondent, the more that person is likely to support such a change.
Let's take a look at all the "reasons" advanced for altering the line of succession for the world's most prestigious monarchy.
* Charles in uninspiring. True. Mention the Prince of Wales' name and the likely response will be tepid, at best. But this is hardly reason for revoking his right to reign. In World War I, Charles great grand father King George V was pilloried by H.G. Wells as "alien and uninspiring." George when he heard the comment was outaged: "I may be uninspiring," he said. "But I'm damned if I'm alien." His reign was successful (unlike those of the principal dynasties of Europe), and he lived long enough to see himself as respected, admired, even loved. Britain will never pull the rug on Charles because he lacks charisma.
* Too old. This, too, won't fly. Right now the queen is 84 years old. Her mother, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, lived to 101. She could live as long, or longer. Each second reduces the reign of Charles III.. But that is irrelevant.
He's prepared his entire life to be king and if he rules for just 5 minutes or less... he'll reign for those. There is no provision in the Constitution to remove the sovereign merely because of his age... and the righteous uproar from senior citizens would be mind boggling if a man were removed from his job because of age alone. Remember, centenarians are the fastest growing segment of the population... and they know how to make themselves heard. Charles will NEVER lose the throne because of his age alone, never.
Charles the cad doesn't deserve to reign. Here the ghost of Diana, Princess of Wales appears, accusing Charles of every crime in the calendar. For betraying his young wife, and for a frump at that, he deserves to pay the ultimate price, losing the throne. More rubbish.
Sovereigns are not chosen because they have (or have not) remained faithful to their marriage vows. If this were the case, there would be precious few sovereigns.... or presidents of republics either. Bedroom morality has no place in the succession of kings, randy or otherwise. And it should have no place here either, whatever fanatical partizans of Diana, Princess of Wales may say. They have it in for the hapless Charles... and always will have. By his duplicitous treatment of Diana, he certainly forfeited the affection and respect of a great nation... but he did not forfeit his long-recognized right to the throne. His right to that is secure.
Charles is not as popular as the winsome two-some. True... but, again, beside the point.. Advancing princes is not determined "American-Idol" like by the voting masses. It is a matter of established custom, rights, and the little matter of the Constitution. Charles has done nothing to forfeit his rights. Unimaginative, odd, eccentric, true... but hard-wording, dutiful, loyal... and patient.
Why abdication is unthinkable
Now hear this:
The queen will NEVER abdicate. The most conservative of all the Windsors, her majesty will fight tooth and nail for Charles to be king. She is a woman who has lived for the dynasty... and fought for its ever dwindling rights and privileges. Support for another over Charles is unthinkable, not merely because he is her first-born son... but because he is Prince of Wales, the recognized and acknowledged heir.
So, it comes down to this:
Charles will NEVER be removed from the succession; there is no reason or party sufficient to urge or persuade. He will never willingly give up his right to the throne, even for a reign of months, or even weeks. He cannot, for such an act diminishes the monarchy to which he had dedicated his life.
What's more can anyone, anyone at all, imagine Prince Wills and his newly minted princess broaching the topic with his father, the long-patient prince? Unthinkable. For Prince Wills to ascend the whole royal establishment would have to concur... starting with a father who never could or would agree.
Like it or not... in the fullness of time Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, that high and mighty princess, will by her passing transfer the throne to his gracious majesty King Charles III.... and he, in his time, will do the same to King William V.
Now for a radical prediction: Charles will reign. Camilla will become, in due course, queen consort. Their reign, very likely short, will be diligent, respectable, even popular. For you see, it is in the interest of all to have it so. Charles and Camilla cannot want it otherwise; they will work hard for this result.. The nation he has served responsibly owes it to him, if not to her, to deliver this result. What's more it will be better for their royal highnesses Wills and Kate to succeed to a well- run, respected institution than one marred by controversy and in tatters.
God save the Queen! God save them all! And may they all reign happy if not glorious.