Opinions

The Monarchical Relic: King Charles III

Stacey Kaliabakos

Chief Opinions Editor

The same statement from Buckingham Palace that reported the death of Queen Elizabeth II to the world on September 8, 2022 announced that her son, Charles, had succeeded her as king. And suddenly, this man whose life has been full of shame and controversy, can now call himself the king of millions around the world. This change of power begs many questions, the largest of them being: how can the archaic institution of the British monarchy be brought to an end?

Queen Elizabeth II ruled over England for seven decades, which is the longest a British monarch has ever been in power. She lived through 14 U.S. presidents and 15 British prime ministers. Although she was beloved by most citizens of England, many people around the world who have been victims of the exploitations allowed by monarchical systems of rule were almost glad to see her gone: citizens of Ireland, Asia, and Africa who still remain part of the commonwealth have taken to social media to express their disdain for the queen, as shown in the following tweet.

Personally, I believe that it is unbecoming to celebrate the death of Queen Elizabeth II. She was a person just like the rest of us and often used her position to the benefit of others (for example, she supported many charities and helped raise billions of dollars as a patron of over 600 charities). According to CNN, she was the most popular member of the royal family for a very long period of time. However, her son Charles had just a 42% approval rating during the summer of 2022. It is unlikely that he will ever be as adored as his mother was, especially now that she is gone.  

Charles has, however, been training for this role all his life, becoming “heir apparent” at the age of three when his mother became queen at 25 in 1952. Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty Magazine, told The New York Post, “The one thing we can say about Charles is that he’s the best-trained monarch-in-waiting–he’s had half a century of training. He’s been Prince of Wales since 1958 and he’s the longest-serving Prince of Wales ever… the transition has been planned at Buckingham Palace and Clarence House for a number of years. As much as could be was readied for when the time came.”

King Charles has long benefited from his position, more so than others who may be as privileged as he is. For example, although his country is currently suffering from worsening inflation and rising poverty, the king and his family will still receive an annual payment from the British government called the “Sovereign Grant.” This grant costs British taxpayers about 86 million pounds (equivalent to about $100 million) in 2021 and is slated to increase by nearly 30 million pounds over the next two years to compensate for the expenses of the Royal Family. These expenses include upkeep for their many castles and chartered flights on private planes.

With the death of Queen Elizabeth, King Charles not only assumed the role of king but also that of the head of the Church of England. The fact that he has now been thrust into this role is heavily ironic– one of the king’s most famous scandals was his extramarital affair with Camilla Parker Bowles (his current wife) while being married to Princess Diana. As far as any Christian should be concerned, King Charles should have no claim to moral leadership due to his questionable moral history.

Finally, King Charles’ everyday habits have been the topic of much discussion following the 2015 Amazon Prime documentary called “Serving the Royals: Inside the Firm.” In the documentary, Paul Burrell, a former butler to several members of the royal family (including Queen Elizabeth) revealed a variety of lavish requests Charles demanded while he was Prince of Wales. Burrell said, “His pajamas are pressed every morning, his shoelaces are pressed flat with an iron, the bath plug has to be in a certain position, and the water temperature has to be just tepid,” in a bathtub filled “only half full.” Apparently, the king even “has his valets squeeze one inch of toothpaste onto his toothbrush every morning.” Chef Graham Nowbould, who is a former member of the royal staff, said “Wherever the prince goes in the world, the breakfast box goes with him. He has six different types of honey, some special mueslis, his dried fruit and anything that’s a bit special that he is a bit fussy about.” According to the documentary, it is also said that he likes his cheese and biscuits to be warmed up to a very specific temperature before he can consume them after dinner. 

In the modern era, especially in America, it is hard to imagine giving so much power to such a fussy, privileged, and morally-questionable unelected figure like King Charles. Britain claims that its Parliament is “one of the oldest continuous representative assemblies” in the world, but having an unelected monarch who is so weighed down with controversies as head of state is the antithesis of a representative society. It leaves us all on the other side of the pond to wonder if King Charles will be the last monarch of England or whether the antiquated role of king will last long enough to be passed down to his own son, Prince William.

Photo by Daniel Leal/AFP/Getty

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