I was there when Charles returned to Buckingham Palace as King. Despite her past royal scandals, her reign got off to a surprisingly good start.


I was at Buckingham Palace when Charles III returned as King.Samir Hussein/WireImage, Maria Noyen/Initiate

  • I was at Buckingham Palace when Charles III returned as King after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

  • Thousands of people applauded his arrival, and some even shouted “long live the king”.

  • Given Charles’ lack of popularity with the British public, this was a beacon of hope for his reign.

When Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort, arrived at Buckingham Palace on September 9, cheers swept through a crowd of thousands of onlookers.

From where I was positioned in the crowd I could see members of the public, people of all ages, gathered outside the palace gates, holding phones and cameras, desperately trying to capture Britain’s new sovereign as ‘he was going. And when Charles’ motorcade finally arrived, minutes after 2 p.m., chants of “God save the King” for “long live the King” ricocheted through the crowd.

It was the day after Buckingham Palace announced that Queen Elizabeth II had died peacefully at the age of 96 at her residence in Balmoral, Scotland. And although it was a moment Charles later told British Prime Minister Liz Truss he had “apprehended”, as Reuters reported it marked the start of his reign as king – a role that ‘he waited seven decades to assume.

But those years of waiting to be king were not easy for Charles.

Time has only given the media more opportunity to scrutinize Charles. While the Queen managed to remain an extremely private figure until her death, the British public has always viewed Charles as an imperfect human being – and perhaps he would rather not be king.

The Victoria Memorial was surrounded by onlookers.

The Victoria Memorial was surrounded by onlookers.Maria Noyen/Initiate

There was a time when the very idea of ​​Charles becoming king was questioned

Whether the public could accept Charles as king has long been a matter of speculation in the UK.

From his failed marriage to Princess Diana to the controversial start of his relationship with Camilla, the Queen Consort, the romantic scandals Charles faced in the 1990s left lasting scars on his reputation from which he struggled to recover. .

Diana spoke openly about the tumultuous relationship she had with Charles during what is now considered one of the most controversial royal interviews to ever take place, as noted by Vanity Fair. Speaking with the BBC’s Martin Bashir, the Princess confirmed Charles was having an extramarital affair with Camilla, saying: “Well there were three of us in this marriage so it was a bit crowded.”

His scandals were so damaging that a MORI poll of public opinion in the UK on whether Charles would make a good king dropped from 82% saying he would in 1991, to just 41% after his divorce from Diana in 1996, The New York Times reported.

Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Princess Diana and Prince William at Trooping the Color 1988.

A young Prince Charles and Princess Diana at Trooping the Colour.Tim Graham/Contributor/Getty Images

The British public have never quite forgiven Charles for his marital indiscretions, even when he publicly admitted them and waited until 2005 to marry Camilla in what may be considered an unusually wise marriage for a royal.

In a 2016 Opinium Research poll on the Queen’s successor, more than half of 2,000 people polled said they would prefer her son Prince William to become king, The Mirror reported.

While Charles has enjoyed positive press since the 1990s – he developed a public persona as a loving grandfather and champion of climate change awareness – he was once again left on his back when his relationship with the Prince Harry, who left royal life in 2020, fractured.

After Harry told Oprah Winfrey in a tell-all 2021 interview that Charles had at some point stopped taking his calls, Insider’s Samantha Grindell reported that his popularity had taken a major hit.

Charles’ reception at Buckingham Palace signals a changing tide

On Friday, research data group YouGov reports that he remains the seventh most popular royal, despite holding the most senior post in the monarchy.

At the top of the list is Queen Elizabeth II, who royal historian and author Hugo Vickers once told Insider would be a “hard act to follow” for Charles.

People take photos with their phones outside Buckingham Palace.

People take photos with their phones outside Buckingham Palace.Maria Noyen/Initiate

That said, I saw a silver lining in the genuine public excitement for a new reign at Buckingham Palace that cannot be ignored. A person called Lynda who I spoke to that day told me she could see him being a good king because she believed he had the same “sense of duty” his mother was known for. .

Lynda was among the thousands of people who came to lay flowers in tribute to the Queen – and these are the same people I saw go from mourning to the enthusiastic encouragement of Charles and Camilla when they arrived.

And it’s not just what I saw that day that proves the tide is turning for Charles. YouGov released a new report on Thursday sharing that public opinion has already “significantly shifted” on Charles following the Queen’s death. 63% of 1,727 people polled across the UK on whether Charles will do a good job as king said yes, while just 15% said no.

In the end, Charles’ reign is off to a better start than I – and perhaps even he – expected. But how far he is able to rise or fall in the public eye remains to be seen.

Read the original Insider article



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