Charles is a man wrestling with the weight of history and winning. He’s proving all the doubters wrong… even Diana | The Sun
IMAGINE losing your mother after 73 years and having to grieve for her in front of the entire world?
Especially after losing your father just a year earlier.
Then imagine having to instantly prove that you’re fit to replace the greatest monarch of all time?
That you have what it takes to be King?
That you’re not going to be the comparatively mediocre uninspiring dud that some malevolent critics have speculated for decades?
Imagine having to bear this tremendous double-dosed pressure with a gazillion newspaper, magazine and TV cameras from London to New York, Sydney to Mumbai, Paris to Tokyo, focused on every sinew of your face for every second you appear in public?
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Imagine knowing that one mistake, one slip of the tongue, one slip of a foot, will be trending worldwide on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok within seconds?
Actually, I can’t imagine it.
The truth is that none of us can even begin to imagine what King Charles III has been going through since the Queen died last Thursday, either on a personal or professional level.
The only person who could really understand it would have been Her Majesty herself, who acceded to the throne when she was just 26 after her father King George VI died, at the exact moment television first emerged, beaming her coronation to all corners of the globe, and making her the most famous person on the planet for the rest of her life.
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And although Charles had a very, very long time to prepare for this moment, the longest apprenticeship for any job in recorded employment history, nothing can adequately prepare anyone for the sudden, dramatic propulsion from Monarch-in-waiting to King.
Yet look how magnificently he’s handled it.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single public figure rise to momentous occasion with such astonishing poise, sure-footedness, class and clarity.
From the moment we first saw our new King following his mother’s passing, he has hit the pitch-perfect note time and again.
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And it was that first connection with his people, during a walkabout outside Buckingham Palace on Friday, that made me know with absolute certainty everything was going to be OK.
As King Charles, raw emotion etched all over his face, moved slowly along the large throng with his Queen Consort wife Camilla, he was greeted by an extraordinary outpouring of warmth from people of all ages, creeds and colours.
GOD SAVE THE KING
There were loud cheers, beaming smiles, expressions of heartfelt sympathy, and myriad hands outstretched eager for a regal shake.
And then the crowd spontaneously burst into cries of ‘GOD SAVE THE KING!’ and Charles looked like he was fighting back tears.
I felt emotional too; incredibly sad about the death of the Queen, but also incredibly moved by the way the British people were showing the new King what we think of him.
That night, he spoke to the nation with a powerful, beautifully crafted speech that was humble, sincere, heartfelt, human and profoundly inspiring.
A work colleague texted me after it to say: ‘King Charles absolutely nailed that. What an address, pubs would have fallen silent across the nation, raising a glass at the end. If he keeps this up, he will convince the nation.’
That last line was interesting.
It reflected many concerns about whether Charles, once he finally got the chance to be King, would be any good at it. The sceptics included his own ex-wife Princess Diana who said in that now infamous Panorama interview that she thought Charles would struggle. ‘Because I know the character, I would think that the top job, as I call it, would bring enormous limitations to him, and I don't know whether he could adapt to that.’
Diana was wrong. All the doubters were wrong
A few months after that interview, I had a private lunch with Diana at Kensington Palace, with a 13-year-old Prince William, and asked her, ‘Do you think Charles will become King one day?’
She thought for a moment and then replied: ‘I think he thinks he will, but I think he would be happier living in Tuscany or Provence, to be honest.’
Diana was wrong.
All the doubters were wrong.
The more I’ve seen of King Charles III in the past few days, the more impressive he has been, from his stirring address to Parliament to his supremely dignified vigil by the Queen’s coffin in Scotland.
This is a man wrestling with the weight of history – and winning.
And the public agree with me.
A new YouGov poll has shown a massive surge in support in Charles’s popularity since he became Monarch.
The number of Britons who think he will be a good King has nearly doubled since March, from 39% to 63%, with only a fifth thinking he will do a bad job.
Most people surveyed believe the new King has responded well since the death of his mother, and a staggering 94% approved of his first address to the nation.
It wasn’t all good news. Older people are more supportive of him than younger people, and that will be a big challenge for Charles – how, at the age of 73, does he make a positive impact on the country’s youth, something that will be vital for the Monarchy’s future?
My ten-year-old daughter’s first reaction when she watched Charles’s TV address was to say: ‘The new King is very old, isn’t he?’
He’s no spring chicken, that’s for sure, and undeniably has a far harder aesthetic act to sell than his mother who was so young and beautiful when she was coronated.
But King Charles is six years younger than the current President of the United States, Joe Biden, and what he lacks in youth he makes up for with vast reservoirs of experience and wisdom from many decades of duty, royal tours and meeting countless world leaders.
He is without question the most qualified person ever to be on the throne.
ROCK OF SUPPORT
As his former PR chief Paddy Harverson said on US TV yesterday: ‘He's 100% ready for this moment. He’s clearly the best prepared monarch we’ve ever had. He’s the hardest working person I’ve ever known. I mean that. He never stops. There isn't a day in a year where he isn’t working.’
Charles also has another trump card up his sleeve in the form of his Queen, Camilla, who will be as big a rock of support as Prince Philip was to Queen Elizabeth.
I’ve got to know her well over the years – we come from neighbouring villages in East Sussex – and she’s a wonderful woman from the same ‘never complain, never explain, and rarely be heard speaking in public’ school of royal protocol as the late Queen.
We have a running joke whenever we meet about an oil painting of hers that I once bought in a charity auction, featuring a rhinocerous in the African bush.
It’s a lovely picture – she’s a talented artist – but the subject matter couldn’t be more fitting.
Camilla’s displayed rhino-thick skin during the often-horrendous turmoil of her enduring love story with Charles, soaking up all the abuse that came her way for supposedly wrecking the fairy-tale Charles/Diana marriage.
Throughout it all, she never complained and never explained, and in their 17 years of blissfully happy marriage she has proven herself to be a worthy, dutiful, and increasingly popular member of the Royal Family.
With her backing, and with the growing support of the British people, I firmly believe King Charles III will be a terrific King, and I wish him all the luck in the world.
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