Meghan And Harry’s Decision To Step Down Apparently Got In The Way Of Charles’ Big Plans

Now in his 70s, Prince Charles has had plenty of time to think about the moment he finally ascends to the throne. But his big plans appear to have been scuppered thanks to one of the biggest shocks in recent royal family history. And it was his youngest son who put a spanner in the works.

With the Queen showing no signs of abdicating, it’s highly likely that her successor will only become king when she dies. That eventuality has been meticulously prepared for in a plan named “London Bridge is down” for more than half a century. But in what way exactly will this world-shattering news unfold?

Well, one of the first individuals to be told will be the U.K. prime minister, who in turn will pass on the news to the various countries still governed by the Queen. The public, meanwhile, is likely to be made aware via the rolling news media. In her homeland, the BBC will replace other programming with a special broadcast about her passing.

A time of grieving lasting no fewer than 12 days will then ensue. If the Queen’s body isn’t at Buckingham Palace, it’ll be taken there. And the Archbishop of Canterbury will be tasked with heading the funeral on a day when flags all over the U.K. will be at half-mast.

The majority of businesses will shut down while the funeral takes place, despite the fact that this measure could heavily impact upon the British economy. A national holiday will be declared for the occasion as well. The general public will also have their opportunity to say a personal goodbye to the Queen before she’s laid to rest: over a number of days, her coffin will be on display in London.

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It’s assumed that Queen Elizabeth II’s body will be buried at the same site as her parents’ graves, namely Windsor Castle’s St George’s Chapel. By this point, Prince Charles will have ascended to the throne. In fact, he’ll also have spoken on air to the British people, and indeed the entire world, in his new position during the hours following his mother’s death.

Prince Charles may also choose to be referred to as Arthur, George or Philip, given that a new monarch is allowed to adopt whichever of their birth names they want to. But it’s more than likely that the royal will be crowned King Charles III three or so months following his mother’s death. And his eldest son Prince William is expected to receive a new title, too: the Prince of Wales.

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But perhaps the most intriguing issues relate to how Princes Charles’ wife will be referred to. Well, royal officials appear to have announced that Camilla won’t be named as the Queen but instead as Princess Consort. This would be in keeping with the lesser title she currently has, the Duchess of Cornwall, which she reportedly chose out of consideration for the former Princess of Wales, Diana.

Of course, some believe that the throne should skip a generation and be taken by Prince William in the wake of the Queen’s passing. In a 2020 survey, only a little over one-third of those questioned believed that Prince Charles was a good influence on the royal family. His turbulent marriage with the hugely popular Princess Diana has no doubt played a part in this embarrassingly low figure.

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To make matters worse for Charles, a much more impressive 78 percent thought his eldest son would do a good job as king. And, according to various tabloids at least, the Queen herself is apparently open to the idea of Prince William becoming the U.K.’s next monarch. However, regardless of whether this is true, the reigning monarch wouldn’t be legally allowed to make such a dramatic constitutional change.

Indeed, the 1701 Act of Settlement states that only a direct successor to the reigning monarch can take the throne. The sole way this law can be changed is if the British Parliament also felt that Prince William was better equipped to take on the role than his father. Moreover, the Duke of Cambridgeshire has never expressed any desire to become king before his time.

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With the Queen fast approaching her 100th birthday, the Prince of Wales has perhaps inevitably stepped up his preparations for his future role in recent years. In 2019 the Daily Star reported that the royal had been involved in several meetings about becoming king including the handling of the Duchy of Lancaster, which is the monarch’s private estate. Bringing in approximately $25 million per annum, the Duchy is spread across nearly 50,000 English and Welsh acres.

And some monarchy experts believe that Charles’ transition from prince to king has already begun. When questioned about the concept of a “shadow king” in an interview with the BBC’s Today in November 2019, Russell Myers, the royal editor of the Daily Mirror, said, “That’s been suggested to me. I think we will definitely see a stepping back – I don’t think we’ll see a massive handover. It will be a very, very subtle process.”

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“We won’t see a sudden coronation, if you will, of King Charles,” Russell continued. “Certainly, [the Queen] taking more of a back seat, the patronages are already being passed over. She’s patron of scores and scores of charities that the younger ones will have to take more responsibility for. It will be a very, very subtle changing go the guard but we’ve certainly witnessed history in the making in the last couple of weeks.”

The transition may be subtle but Prince Charles has nonetheless reportedly expressed plans to make quite a major change at some point during his reign. Indeed, according to the press, the royal is hoping to drastically scale down the size of the monarchy by cutting out more distant relatives. This would essentially just leave Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, his two sons and their spouses and his grandkids.

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Prince Charles first appeared to hint at the idea while marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. The future king took to the famous balcony at Buckingham Palace on the big day with several other royals in tow. However, no one outside Charles’ immediate circle, including an apparently disgruntled Prince Andrew, was invited to join him.

The Prince of Wales is believed to have committed to this idea even more strongly in the wake of the allegations surrounding his younger brother. As a result, Prince Andrew’s daughters Eugenie and Beatrice, their generation’s only two princesses by birth, may also be kept at a distance. Reports suggest that this has caused huge friction between the two princes.

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Prince Charles was also praised for the way he helped the Queen handle the Prince Andrew scandal. Charles was reportedly an instrumental figure behind the scenes as the family dealt with the fallout from his brother’s disastrous interview with the BBC. An insider allegedly informed The Sun, “This was the moment when Charles stepped up as Prince Regent, the Shadow King.”

Of course, streamlining the royal family isn’t the only significant change Prince Charles plans to make. In 2015 the man himself revealed that he’ll be retaining the “Defender of the Faith” title that’s a long-standing custom within the British monarchy. However, he confirmed that he’ll also be “ensuring that other people’s faiths can be also be practiced.” The title has previously only encompassed a single creed.

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The ex-Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, welcomed this change in a 2019 interview with the Daily Express. “Clearly, our next Supreme Governor of the Church of England plans to do the job a little differently,” Carey said. “He is an individual who wants to chart new territory and that will be interesting indeed. He is very outspoken.”

Lord Carey went on to praise Charles for his willingness to learn about other religions. “During his visits around the country he makes sure he is balanced, visiting Sikh, Muslim, Hindu and Christian communities,” Carey added. “‘The future surely lies in rediscovering the universal truths that dwell at the heart of these religions,’ he has said.”

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Prince Charles has also already proven that he’s likely to be a lot more vocal than his mother. Whereas the Queen is renowned for remaining largely neutral about political or topical matters, her eldest son has often been determined to speak up for what he believes in. And the impact of global warming has been of particular interest for the future king since the early 1970s.

Indeed, long before climate change became a mainstream concern, Prince Charles spoke publicly about the subject at the age of just 22. And the royal hasn’t stopped voicing his concerns for the environment ever since. According to Woman & Home, in February 2020 he warned those attending the opening of Coventry’s National Automotive Innovation Centre, “We really do have to pull our fingers out now, because the theory is we have got this decade left [to save the planet].”

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However, just as Prince Charles looked to have sorted out all his early plans as king, along came Megxit. In January 2020 his youngest son Prince Harry and Harry’s wife of two years, Meghan Markle, announced they would be taking a backseat from the royal family. The pair subsequently surrendered both their public funding and their official titles.

Harry and Meghan’s shock decision inevitably left Prince Charles’ hopes for a smaller royal family in disarray. Indeed, with the pair now residing in North America, the future king and his wife Camilla would only have William, Kate and their three kids for company under Charles’ proposed reformation of the monarchy. The Royal Central website’s deputy editor Brittani Barger told the Daily Star that Charles would have been left blindsided by his son fleeing the nest.

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Brittani said, “I think Prince Charles is probably disappointed as he always had Harry and Meghan in his plan for a slimmed-down monarchy. Now, that slimmed down monarchy will have to be re-evaluated… It’s his son, daughter-in-law and grandson – knowing they have been this miserable has to upset him.”

Another royal expert, Nigel Cawthorne, told the Daily Express that Charles had intended to make Harry and Meghan a major part of his new royal structure. “He saw that the marriage of the Sussexes brought Harry great happiness, and that it created at the same time a new story for the monarchy that resonated deeply both in Britain but also in the Commonwealth and other English-speaking countries if not the world,” the author stated. “Only good things could come of that.”

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However, Cawthorne also claimed that the future king is more flexible than he’s given credit for. “Prince Charles’ ideas about slimming down the monarchy go back for more than a decade and it is unlikely that he had any firm ideas about how Harry’s marriage would fit in as and when,” Cawthorne said. “Of course, when they decided to emigrate all that had to come to an end as there is no such thing as an absentee HRH.”

In fact, Cawthorne, who has written a book about Prince Andrew’s connection to Jeffrey Epstein, believes that Prince Charles may have already started to adapt his plans. “Although he no doubts regrets their decision as a father, he is not a rigid thinker,” Cawthorne claimed. “Both Harry and Meghan are popular but so are other senior members of the royal family, and the monarchy is not just about popularity.”

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Lady Glenconner, who was once Princess Margaret’s attendant, even joked that in a way the recent spate of royal scandals has ultimately given the Prince of Wales his wish. She told Tatler magazine, “Prince Charles has always wanted to make the Royal Family ‘slimmer.’ Now he’s got it in spades! There are hardly any of them left!”

So, could Megxit have given Prince Andrew and his family a last-minute reprieve when it comes to the slim-lining of the monarchy? Not according to Royal Central editor Charlie Proctor. In fact, he believes that public support for Prince Charles’ royal revolution may well have increased in the wake of the Epstein controversy.

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In an interview with the Daily Star, Proctor said, “For all the positive work royals do in their line of work, it takes only one incident for everything to unravel. Prince Andrew would probably have been sidelined during King Charles’ reign anyhow. But his expulsion from public duties has now been sped up.”

Proctor believes that time is now definitely up for Prince Andrew’s daughters, too. “Also gone are any chances of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie ever becoming working royals,” he said. “Andrew has always hoped and lobbied for his daughters to become full-time royals as they were the only blood princesses a few years ago. There is now no chance they will ever conduct engagements on behalf of Queen Elizabeth or King Charles.”

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Of course, Prince Andrew’s ousting from his older sibling’s future family plans shouldn’t have come as a particular shock for the disgraced royal. “Charles has not always got on well with his younger brother,” an anonymous insider reportedly told The Times in 2019. “And Andrew has chafed against Charles’ well-trailed idea that there must be a slimmed-down monarchy.”

But even the siblings who haven’t been caught up in a major scandal may still struggle to avoid the axe, according to Proctor. “To have a true slimmed down monarchy, Princess Anne and Prince Edward would have to go, too,” he stated. “Hopefully Charles isn’t planning for this as not many people have worked harder for the institution of monarchy than Anne, Edward and Sophie.”

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However, Royal Central deputy editor Brittani Barger believes that the Prince of Wales’ two other siblings will have been saved by the events of 2020. She told the Daily Star, “Does [Prince Charles] include the Wessexes and Princess Anne now? It almost seems like he will have to, to keep up with the work that Meghan and Harry would have been doing.”

It’s a view shared by Phil Dampier, another royal writer, who told the Daily Express, “Prince Charles has said that he wants a slimmed down monarchy. But I don’t think he had in mind it would slim down quite as quickly and quite as much as it has. We’ve got Prince Philip who’s retired, we’ve got the Queen who is 94, Princess Anne is 70 this year. Prince Charles and Camilla are in their 70s.”

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“Harry and Meghan have left, and Andrew is out in the cold,” Dampier continued. “It is slimmed down a lot already and I’m not sure, if it slims down much more, they’re going to struggle to fit all the jobs. There is scope for people like Sophie to step up and do more because she’s young, in her mid-50s.”

However, Cawthorne believes that Prince Charles still has enough high-profile backing to carry out his plan. The author told the Daily Express, “The idea of the monarchy he sees, and in which he seems to be supported by William and, increasingly, it would appear the Queen, is one that suits the 21st century. Like the Windsors’ relatives who reign in the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Belgium and Spain, he prefers to dampen a sense of entitlement among royals.”

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“Being born as a Windsor is a privilege, but it doesn’t mean that being a certain number in line to throne means an entitlement to housing and other perks of The Firm,” Cawthorne continued. “Furthermore, Prince Charles would feel that such privilege comes with great responsibility. Not every royal is equally suited for a public role and others may not want a life in the spotlight.”

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