As all eyes turn to King Charles III, journalist and famed royal watcher Tina Brown offers some insights on what kind of monarch the longtime heir apparent is likely to be.
Brown’s latest book, The Palace Papers, pulls back the curtains on some of the inner workings of the royal family.
How would you rate King Charles III’s response to his ascension to the throne, and his mother’s death?
His royal training has completely kicked in—both his naval training as an officer, and his years and decades of attending big royal ceremonial occasions, has just schooled him in this impeccable conduct. Each one of his different speeches has been both potent and also human. Charles has been acclaimed with enormous love and affection by the British nation in the last few days. In a sense, this is the first time that Charles has really been able to experience that.
Is King Charles III likely to run into trouble given his advocacy on the climate, and his history of trying to intervene in policy?
Charles knows that the days of speaking out vocally on those things are done. He actually said in an interview, “I’m not that stupid.” And I don’t think he will. He doesn’t need to. The truth is, we know what he thinks about climate change. The other thing that will be very helpful for Charles: he becomes King at a point when we have a very inexperienced and divisive Prime Minister [Liz Truss], who hasn’t done this job before and who has not been elected by the whole country. So he actually will appear to be the more statesman-like figure.
How will the King respond to the very public controversy over Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, distancing themselves from the royal family?
Charles is going to be reaching out to Harry a lot. And I think he wants very much to heal that rift. Whether or not the rift can be healed will be more down to whether or not the Duchess feels that she would ever want to return to the family fold.
Has Camilla successfully rehabbed her image as Queen consort now?
I absolutely do think so. She’s now been married to Charles longer than Diana was and is enormously supportive of him. I think she has an air of somebody who’s a little dazed by the enormity of what she’s now in. But she has natural charm. She’s going to be a queen mother figure to the nation who now regard her with some affection.
The two women in Charles’s life who are going to be the most important are Camilla and his sister Anne who he’s very close to and who will play a role like Valerie Biden plays to Joe —a backstage consigliere to Charles.
We just passed the 25th anniversary of Diana’s death. How do you see the accession of Charles in the context of that anniversary?
The country’s always going to love Diana and her memory. You’re going to see more and more memorializing of Diana during the reign of William, for instance, when he takes over. But time moved on. [Diana’s death] was 25 years ago. Camilla has been accepted. This is a human family, and what family hasn’t been riven by divorce in today’s age? Very few.
There are already rumblings that some nations will cut ties with the monarchy. What will that mean for the crown?
Charles fully expects that to happen. He’s actually quite accepting of it. He knows that by the time we get to [new heir to the throne] Prince William, the sovereign realms will be gone. One of Charles’ thorniest challenges is to address the lasting damage of colonialism, for which there is rising vocal demand.
Is there a chance that the British monarchy could be abolished in the foreseeable future?
No, not in the foreseeable future. It’s been 1,200 years and going strong. The answer is in the 5-mile lines to see the Queen lying in state. The monarchy stands above partisan politics. It’s a symbol of unity that unites the country at moments of grief and moments of joy.
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