Vivat Rex Carolus!
“God save the King!” They shouted. “Long live the King! May the King live forever!”
The last won’t happen, anyhow. Truth be told, not that much chance of the second, either. Charles III is 74, ten years older than I, and even should he prove as long-lived as his parents did, he has perhaps twenty or twenty-five years left in him. Granted, his grandmother lived to be 100 — a testament to the preservative powers of gin and Dubonnet, some have said — but that case was different. For all the constant reminders that a Coronation is a ‘once in a lifetime event’ I know that, barring disaster, my children and grandchildren will live to see William and Kate crowned, even if I don’t.
So we have to ask ourselves why a man, at an age where most people are have been retired for several years already, bothered at all? A man who has commanded a Naval vessel, visited more countries than some folk have ever heard of, has had more than his share of family problems, helped, through untiring charity work and advocacy, hundreds if not thousands of people, who is wealthier than most, should take on, in late life, one of the more difficult roles the world offers.
One may speak of a sense of duty, of course, and that is part of it.
You can say “His whole life has been leading up to this!” — only it hasn’t, has it? He took his life in his hands and carved out a role for himself in a world that expected him to be a playboy and a stand-in for his mother at hand-shaking and ribbon-cutting events. He took a near-bankrupt duchy and turned it into a thriving business. He used his influence, his title, his standing, to bring together groups of people who could solve problems, and got them working together. He advocated endlessly, and occasionally controversially, on things that mattered, not only to him, but to other people. He set up and patronised organisations designed to help young people at a time when a faltering economy robbed them of hope and opportunity. He was aware of, and active in, environmental matters before many people realised there was an issue. Even if Charles had not lived to become King, he would have left a legacy anyone could be proud of.