The King has not only steadied the monarchy, he has set it on a safe course. If I was being presumptuous, I would mark His Majesty’s score at eight out of 10.
He conducted himself with dignity and humility in the aftermath of the Queen’s death. People warmed to the King and empathised. Since then there have been some heavy issues to handle. Anyone would have found his son Harry’s behaviour difficult. The late Queen certainly did.
After Netflix and his whining book Spare — in which he attacked Queen Camilla and his brother William and wasn’t too complimentary about his father — there is no chance of a reconciliation soon, I am told. To have the sorry scenario played out in public must have been excruciating. The King dealt with it decisively and effectively.
We all know Her Majesty was a tough act to follow. But nobody could have done it better. The King has set to work making the monarchy an institution fit for purpose in the 21st century — more diverse, streamlined, accountable and cost-effective. He’d be the first to admit he can be a little eccentric, but he’s perfectly placed as a statesman in a world lacking leading role models.
Charles has kudos, and when he speaks he has impact and gravitas — more people listen. He spoke eloquently and with passion in Germany about the scourge of war and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He will have a similarly strong message when he addresses the senate in France this month.
Back home, a recent poll suggested he has more to do to win over younger people. Just 37 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds want Britain to remain a monarchy, while 40 per cent would prefer an elected head of state, according to YouGov. Overall, 62 per cent back Britain having a monarchy.
Courtiers would have taken note. But the King once told me: “Polls mean nothing to me.” We were at a reception in Darwin in 2018. “You see, I’m in it for the long term.”