King Charles III’s first year as British monarch has ended with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s broadsides in the rear view mirror, but questions remain over declining support from young people and fragile relations with his overseas realms.
Charles and Queen Camilla’s biggest high of the past 12 months was unsurprisingly their coronation at Westminster Abbey in May.
Swipes from Harry and Meghan over December and January represented their most pressured period, while the days immediately after the loss of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, 2022, were a time of mourning.
As Charles looks back on the first 12 months of the job he waited 70 years to perform, seven experts have told Newsweek what they thought of the start of his reign.
Robert Lacey, author of Battle of Brothers, said years of campaigning on the climate change paid off in Charles’ relations with U.S. President Joe Biden during his first 12 months, including a visit to Britain in July.
He told Newsweek: “I think it was very significant that when Joe Biden came to Britain he spent more time with King Charles than he did with [British Prime Minister] Rishi Sunak.
“That’s not a question of photo opportunity. That was a tribute to Charles and I think it’s constitutionally significant because it shows the way in which Charles has been able to include his own opinions and campaigning within his royal identity without being called partial.
“Every American president wants to be photographed with the monarch but the real reason was that he wanted climate credentials when he went to [climate change conference] COP and the fact that Charles could give those to him is I think highly significant.”
Graham Smith, chief executive of anti-monarchy campaign group Republic, said the organization’s donations and volunteers had swollen during Charles’ first year.
He told Newsweek: “All these years of talk of modernizing and slimming down has proven to be a load of nonsense, it’s just more of the same. More secrecy and more waste of money.
“No closure on questions of cash for honors and Prince Andrew and there is very little to comment on because he does so little.
“For us its been quite significant because the polling is showing big shifts in attitudes and the republican movement is hugely galvanized.
“A third of people now have a negative view of the monarchy which is up by about ten points and support is down to anything from 55 to 60 percent.
“For Republic we’ve been completely transformed. We’ve got lots of money, staff, hundreds of activists getting involved around the country.”
Rob Jobson, author of Our King, told Newsweek Charles did well to stay silent on Harry and Meghan’s criticisms in the Netflix documentary and the prince’s book Spare.
He said: “If I was being presumptuous I would say he was an eight out of ten. There was the Harry situation but I think he dealt with that quite well, quite strictly.
“He stuck to his guns, which I think if he hadn’t then people would have found it a little bit galling.”
Jobson said Charles should have visited one of the countries outside Britain that recognizes him as king, known as Commonwealth realms.
He said: “I would like to have seen him sure up the Commonwealth, sure up the realms. Had he gone to Australia or New Zealand or Canada I would have liked to see that in the first instance as opposed to Germany and now France.
“I think people have warmed to him but with the younger generation, there’s a lot of work to be done.
“I know that he doesn’t really look at the polls, but you only have to look at them, which the courtiers are paid to do, to see that the younger generation are not connecting with royalty, do not see that an unelected head of state makes a lot of sense and don’t have the same loyalty to the king, an unelected king.”
Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, author of This Is Why I Resist, told Newsweek: “King Charles has achieved absolutely nothing.
“If anything, he has done more to distance society from the royal family than being a bridge that closes the gap on differences.
“He’s not done anything to unite us. If anything, he has done more to p*** us off. The man got us to spend hundreds of millions of pounds to throw him a party and there are millions more who don’t know how they are going to provide for their families.”
“If he’s going to be there then he needs to be a whole lot more progressive. Shut down the drama within his family, lead by example when it comes to Harry and Meghan, when it comes to his brother Prince Andrew.
“We can see that the royal family is striding lengths to revitalize Andrew in the public eye, its ridiculous.”
Ingrid Seward, author of Prince Philip Revealed, told Newsweek: “His first year has been extraordinarily successful because he’s mellowed. You get that feeling that suddenly the focus is on Charles, it’s not on the prince and princess of Wales, or their children or Harry and Meghan.
“The focus is on Charles as king. He seems to bask in some kind of glory he’s never had before.
“People have been cheering him. He’s been much more tactile than he used to be, he’s been shaking hands and really looking as if he’s enjoying it and I think he really is.”
“He’s handled the transition well. The ceremonial has been brilliant,” royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told Newsweek.
“King Charles has added extra counsellors of state to act in his absence or incapacity, and begun a study into the royal family’s past links with the iniquitous slave trade.
“The ‘slimline monarchy’ is a concept that, however put into practice, will mean fewer royal engagements, all but four of the working members of the royal family are over 70.
“Also, the challenge is clearly to appeal to the young, ever since Harry and Meghan’s toxic interview on Oprah, support for the monarchy, though still strong in most other age groups, has fallen drastically among 18-24s.
“The Sussexes remain unpredictable, evicting them from Frogmore Cottage was undoubtedly a fitting rebuke for the contents of Spare and Harry’s interviews to promote it.
“The coming year must surely bring more royal visits abroad, especially to Commonwealth countries.”
Royal author Phil Dampier told Newsweek: “I’d give him eight out of ten. I think he got off to a very good start and he immediately took on the persona of king very well and performed all his duties very well.
“I thought the coronation was a huge success. The only doubts I’d have are that I think he still needs to make some decisions fairly fast about what to do with all these homes.
“There are too many properties and he doesn’t seem to have made up his mind about what to do with them. Windsor Castle is just a great, wasted asset at the moment. It should be turned into a museum for the queen.”
Jack Royston is chief royal correspondent for Newsweek, based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jack_royston and read his stories on Newsweek‘s The Royals Facebook page.
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