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Prince Charles: I will not be a meddling monarch... I'm not that stupid

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The Prince of Wales has ruled out being a “meddling monarch” when he becomes king as he gave an extraordinary interview ahead of his 70th birthday.

Charles has been criticised in the past for his controversially lobbying, campaigning on the environment, architecture and homeopathy.

But interviewed about his milestone birthday, the prince urged that he would not be able to do the “same things I've done” as heir of the throne. He said as monarch he would operate within “constitutional parameters".

Speaking in detail about his future role as head of state the prince said: "You know, I've tried to make sure whatever I've done has been non-party political.

“I think it's vital to remember there's only room for one sovereign at a time, not two. So, you can't be the same as the sovereign if you're the Prince of Wales or the heir.

"But the idea somehow that I'm going to go on in exactly the same way, if I have to succeed, is complete nonsense because the two - the two situations - are completely different."

In the BBC film, the Prince William said he would like his father to spend more time with his grandchildren - Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

He said "when he's there, he's brilliant" but "we need him there as much as possible".

The Duchess of Cornwall also paid tribute to Charles's role as a grandfather, saying her five grandchildren "absolutely adore" him. 

She said he reads them the Harry Potter books while doing the characters’ voices.

Asked whether his public campaigning will go on, Charles said: "No, it won't. I'm not that stupid. 

“I do realise that it is a separate exercise being sovereign. So of course I understand entirely how that should operate."

When questioned about what some have termed his "meddling", Charles defends his actions, which include establishing the Prince's Trust in 1976 to help disadvantaged young people.

He said: "But I always wonder what meddling is, I mean I always thought it was motivating but I've always been intrigued, if it's meddling to worry about the inner cities as I did 40 years ago and what was happening or not happening there.

"The conditions in which people were living. If that's meddling I'm very proud of it."

In 2015 Charles had to defend his decision to write a series of letters to government ministers, some of which are known as the "black spider" memos.

The letters showed the prince had raised issues with ministers on several occasions between September 2004 and March 2005.

He wrote to ministers about the lack of resources for the armed forces in Iraq; benefits of complementary medicine; need for affordable rural homes and the threat to heritage buildings.

In the same year there was controversy when it emerged Charles had been routinely receiving copies of confidential Cabinet papers for more than 20 years.

An official document released showed documents of the Cabinet and ministerial committees were being provided to a "standard circulation" list.

As well as the Queen, it included the Prince of Wales, although it was not suggested he had requested access. 

Charles has made his views on Britain's buildings clear on numerous occasions over the decades, leading to an at-times tense relationship with architects.

He described plans for an extension to the National Gallery in 1984 as a "monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend". 

The proposals were later changed.

He has also on occasion criticised how architecture is taught, saying in 2009 that traditional buildings and projects are "looked down on".

The same year he intervened in the redevelopment of Chelsea Barracks in west London, writing to the owners to reconsider their designs.

The documentary captures the future king in private and public, from feeding vegetable scraps to his chickens and collecting their eggs at his Highgrove home in Gloucestershire.

He also visits Australia's Great Barrier reef to highlight climate change, and Caribbean islands recently devastated by a hurricane.

In the film, Prince, Son and Heir: Charles at 70, the royal says about his role as Prince of Wales: "You have to make of it what you feel is right.

"So, there's nothing laid down, that's what makes it so interesting, challenging and of course complicated."

The Duchess of Cornwall described in the documentary how Charles was driven by the need to help others, saying: "He feels everything inside, that's why he gets things done.

"He's pretty impatient, he wants things done by yesterday as I think everybody who works for him will tell you. But that's how he gets things done, he's driven by this, this passion inside him to really help."

She added: "He would like to save the world."

Prince, Son And Heir: Charles At 70 will be screened on Thursday at 9pm on BBC One.

Evening Standard


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