It is three months – twelve weeks – since Prince Charles became King. The late Queen’s death was no great surprise yet somehow it seemed to come about quite suddenly. What followed, her funeral arrangements and the accession of the King, happened faultlessly. Buckingham Palace officials and the short-lived government of Liz Truss all deserve credit for that.
In the early days of his reign the King juggled the formal series of services and processions with less formal trips around the country. The pace of his travels and engagements was frenetic, perhaps suggesting some long-held anxiety that there would be resistance to him becoming King. Wherever he and the new Queen went, however, there was nothing but a warm reception.
In recent days things have warmed up a bit for the Monarchy. A couple of egg throwing incidents, Lady Hussey’s remarks, and the wearying presence of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex paddling around at the shallow end of public life have all provided tests in their own way for the new reign. Such tests will continue to arise.
The great advantage the King has by having such a long apprenticeship is that whilst he may be performing a new role in the nation’s public life he himself, and Camilla the new Queen, are very familiar figures to the country. Together they radiate a dignified, stately yet somehow unstuffy presence as King and Queen.
Whether it’s the decision to remain living at Highgrove, Clarence House and Birkhall, or the gentle arrangement to replace Ladies-in-Waiting with Queen’s Companions, or just their reassuring presence as they go about their duties, the right tone is being struck and that intangible but vital sense of permanence without stultifying atrophy is certainly present. There can be no doubt that this subtle balance of the same but different can be no easy one to deliver, but delivering it the King and Queen certainly are.
At the same time the new Prince and Princess of Wales have stepped into their new roles with the same assured and seamless manner. Charles and William may have been born to it, while Camilla and Kate were not, but it is clear that following in the footsteps of the late Queen Mother and the Duke of Edinburgh, their parts are crucial to making the changes that are coming about go without a hitch. They are vital to the success of the Monarchy as it evolves. For their service to the Crown and to the country we may all be grateful.
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A stable transition from one Monarch to the next is not always a smooth business. Princes of Wales are not always reliable, patient and supportive understudies. Charles, William, Camilla and Kate, however, are all doing their work in a way in which the whole country can be proud. It is also worth noting that Princess Anne and Tim Laurence, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, and the Dukes of Kent and Gloucester are all playing full and supportive parts in the new reign. The planning for the handover may have been long in the making but great credit should go to the people involved in making it work so well.
A stable Monarchy matters to a stable Britain at any time, but with national politics so febrile and the economic outlook so uncertain it matters now more than in less volatile times that we have an institution that works, of which we can be proud, and which demonstrates the very best of what and who we are as a people. We ask a very great deal of those who perform the senior Royal roles and the King and Queen, and all those asked to perform public Royal duties are doing us proud.
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