Jane Kelly: Poundburyland, and why the Queen should hand over to William, not Charles

What an amazing place, I thought, believing I had arrived in Dorchester; so many classical buildings, everything so pristine, such wide streets, no litter anywhere, and it’s so easy to park, at least on the wide, gravelled side-streets. Visiting Dorset on the south coast in August, being able to park came as a big shock. I wandered around for a while in a happy daze, though slightly perplexed by a grand Palladian palace on a hill nearby which I’d never seen in any photo.

The centre of the town appeared to have been hit by a small radiation weapon; fine 18th century terraces stood perfectly preserved but the population were obviously all dead. There were no shops visible in the main square. No cafes, pubs, bars. Dorchester is a famous old market town, but there were no tourists, and no noise from birds, children or dogs.

My friend and I were uneasy and confused until we spotted a ten-foot-tall, shining black cast-iron statue of the Queen Mother, and a flat notice saying ‘Queen Mother Square’. We were in Poundbury, somewhere on the outskirts of Dorchester. There are no road signs at all, and nothing to guide you there on the map. Arriving unexpectedly creates a bit of a ‘Brigadoon’ effect, both unsettling and unreal.

Even the seraphic smile on the round face of the QM did not reassure us. Something was wrong; the grand palace on the hill turned out to be the HQ of the Dorset Fire & Rescue service. We found a garden centre and a tiny Waitrose, but they were tucked out of sight. There is a plan to build a pub/hotel opposite the Queen Mum’s statue, but it’ll be called after the Duchess of Cornwall, her sister will design the interior, and its facade is going to replicate the Ritz in London, once the QM’s favourite town watering-hole.

Built by Prince Charles in the early 1990s, Poundbury was intended to be his idea of a model village; it looks as if it’s been emptied out of a royal toy box on to the west Dorset countryside. For all the ancient stone and slate used on the houses, a lack of anything truly old or original is disconcerting. Perhaps we have become too used to the filth, ugliness and squalor of our modern towns, but this was like wandering around a 400-acre garden on an aristocratic estate, a rich man’s folly, dominated by the effigy of his beloved grandmother. I’m sure we’d all like to put up statues to our mothers, grandmas and even our cats, but something about seeing her there seemed embarrassingly personal. Obviously the whole place belongs to him.

Apparently 2,500 people do live there, with plans for 5,000 more residences, but strangely no school. Perhaps the prince doesn’t like children. Some critics are afraid that the carefully planned town will soon be sprawling as far as the Iron Age hill fort Maiden Castle, ruining the Dorset landscape, just like any other high-density modern housing estate. But unlike the average anodyne housing estate, Poundbury is very personal. Phase two of the plan includes ‘Strathmore House’, named after the Queen Mother’s father, the 14th Earl of Strathmore. It will be a replica of Buckingham Palace, with eight apartments costing £650,000 each. There’ll also be an upmarket retirement development called Bowes-Lyon, the QM’s family name.
The prince originally had some kind of rural workers’ village in mind, but even a future king has not been able to solve the problem of affordable housing against the force of capitalist greed; only 35 per cent of the properties in Poundbury are in that category, and prices there are now 29 per cent higher than anywhere else in Dorset.



I was sad to find Poundbury little more than a museum dedicated to the Queen Mother, a solipsistic fantasy, as I am an ardent monarchist. I still feel angry about the death of Charles I, and like Prince Charles I detest most contemporary architecture in Britain. I feel Richard Rogers should be tried in The Hague for crimes against humanity, or at least against the citizens of London. I mourn the loss of our capital’s skyline, sold off to developers first by Ken Livingstone, who wanted to turn it into Manhattan, and then by Boris Johnson. I want an end to the constant building in steel and glass. But poor Prince Charles’s answer to all that, despite tons of finely dressed local stone, has somehow failed.

Our next king, now approaching 70, has created a grief-for-his-Gran theme park replete with fake domes and empty towers. There aren’t even any bats because there is no genuine belfry. He is, of course, a well-meaning man, very like George III whom he closely resembles. But there is nothing about him that speaks of the viable future. He has always looked old, even when he was a student at Cambridge – not his fault, but he somehow remains redolent of the 1950s or perhaps even earlier. There is also the memory of his selfish adultery, when he set up with Camilla in his beloved Highgrove (which he must surely be very reluctant to swap for Buckingham Palace), abandoning his wife and sons in Kensington.

That blot on the landscape of his life is apparently going to be commemorated in the new Poundbury pub named after Camilla. The fact that Charles can plan such a thing suggests a distinct lack of reality in his outlook. Pubs are usually called after popular monarchs or raffish characters. Perhaps he doesn’t realise that most of us are not sure that she should ever be Queen.
We all quietly wonder what will happen when Elizabeth II dies, and it is increasingly obvious that her eldest son should hand the throne to his son William. That won’t involve the breaking of any sacred vow; the Queen is an anointed monarch and will continue until death. The succession can pass easily to her grandson. Unlike Charles, who has been beached by history – again, not his fault – William offers youth, vigour, a young wife and above all a growing family.

The Cambridges present the essence of freshness, optimism and cohesion; a view offered in the early 1950s by the Queen when her children were very young, before they all became so distinctly odd, perhaps reflecting their repressive upbringing and a sadly restricted gene pool. We must go back to the early marriage of Queen Victoria to find another William and Kate, and a similarly blazing vision of the Royal Family as a healthy, wholesome middle-class family.

Victoria didn’t disappear like most of the other reigning monarchs in Europe after the revolutions of 1848 because, unlike them, she reflected bourgeois tastes rather than remote aristocratic sensibilities. Her image still appeals, currently winning her a successful soapy Sunday night drama on ITV and a new film starring Judi Dench.

Victoria and Albert’s popularity was assisted by paintings by Winterhalter and Landseer which were as influential as current celebrity magazines and TV shows. Although facile celebrity is now the main attraction in our popular culture, the idea of Christian family life expressed in images of the contented royal couple, their infants and dogs, was once a real and positive aspiration for many thousands of Britons.

We are not currently a happy nation, with Conservatives no longer ‘conserving’ and the Left embracing its radical past. Advanced capitalism has not provided homes and secure jobs. ‘Broken’ is an over-simple but popular term for us. Instead of social mobility, we are again divided by class, wealth, and now also by race and culture. Despite that, the Queen is generally recognised as a unifying force. The press ignore her deep Christian faith which she mentions in every one of her Christmas broadcasts, but keeping that at her centre she manages to remain all things to almost all of her people. Even Corbyn, heading his hordes of furious, frustrated young, does not dare to demand a republic.

Following her success, seeing William crowned in that moving medieval ceremony, which he is less likely to tinker with than his Dad, and images of a young royal family, would have a terrific impact and be an incalculable boost to the country. A new, accessible, untried family at the top might give young and old a feeling that they belong to something again. The kingdom would be united by a charming and kindly young man, his lower-middle-class wife, raffish brother and pretty children.

The ghastly, now tedious problem of Diana would finally be resolved, and all those images of post-war decline, failure and confusion, evident in Charles’s red, mournful face, could be expelled for ever.

Jane Kelly

  • TheRightToArmBears

    The royal family has failed Britain.
    Elizabeth, at her coronation, swore an oath to protect and preserve the sovereignty that was invested in her.
    She signed four bills into law ceding that sovereignty to the EEC and then the EU. Remainer will say that she ‘had no choice under our constitution’, but Britain has no constitution.
    Elizabeth could and should have told Heath that yes, she would sign his bill IF he would first take it back to the Commons and tell them that she would sign if they would publicly say that they wanted her to break her coronation oath.
    If she had done that Heath would have withdrawn his squalid little bill and all our lives would have been better.
    But Elizabeth didn’t and our lives have not got better.

    • James60498 .

      As a Christian Monarch she has also signed bills allowing abortion almost without limit and “gay marriage”.

      It is only when I consider the alternative possibility of Presidents Blair and Cameron (May or Khan) that I think that the Royal Family may have any part to play in the Constitution.

      In the meantime I agree with “manofthepeepl”, you can’t choose your Monarch.

    • Disgruntledgoat

      I’m not sure I want to go back to the 18th Century, thanks.

      • Busy Mum

        Why not? That’s when Britons were really free.

        • Disgruntledgoat

          Free to be transported to Australia for petty crime, free to day of cholera because you were drinking unclean water, free to be pressed into the service on a whim., no votes, no jury trial… yes I can really see the attraction.

          • Bik Byro

            In “Busy Mum world” that sounds like paradise.
            Throw in draconian religious authoritarianism and she’d be rapturous. (although unfortunately for her, the 18th century was more of a ‘century of reason’ so that might not suit.)

          • Busy Mum

            Just like today we are free to know that petty criminals can do what they like without any consequences, we are free to drink our water without having a clue what the authorities put in it, free to be charged with hate crime on a whim, free to have our votes rendered useless by universal suffrage and postal vote fraud.

            And jury trial was valued far more highly in the past than it is now…..No jury in the C18th? Are you sure about that?

            And ‘freedom to die’ is what this generation really does want in the push for euthanasia.

            I think you will find that cholera was more associated with the C19th than the C18th.

            And I daresay transportation was considered a better fate than hanging – it was actually an act of mercy, in those days.

          • gunnerbear

            ” we are free to drink our water without having a clue what the authorities put in it….” I gather a decorated, very senior USAF officer considered that very question at great length… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qr2bSL5VQgM …of course some might suggest the General, umm, ‘exceeded his authority’ when it came to pondering that issue……however, other equally distinguished officers raised the issue about whether it was sensible or needed to waste or otherwise, the situation generated by the General exceeding his authority…
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuP6KbIsNK4

          • anna

            The 18th century was an age of contrasts: cruelty and squalor juxtaposed with high-mindedness and elegance. Aesthetically, it was unequalled. One would be hard put to find a single 18th century artefact, from a teaspoon to a palace, that was not beautiful.

        • thumper_the_rabbit

          Crumbs … you obviously did well at history.

          • Busy Mum

            Please bear in mind that people coming out with A* at GCSE and A level have never studied the C18th. Its exclusion from the curriculum is enough to give you a clue that there are things from that era which the govt does not wish us to know.

          • Bik Byro

            Totally wrong yet again. Many history teachers fall over backwards to teach The Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. It’s in the curriculum at Key Stage 3 at least.

            One day you might use real facts as opposed to wrong things you just made up in your head.

          • Busy Mum

            Learning about the slave trade does not equate to studying the C18th.

          • Bik Byro

            I’m sure you would therefore totally endorse the teaching of The Age of Enlightenment then. After all, it’s what the 18th century was about.

          • Busy Mum

            I don’t really say that centuries are ‘about’ anything.

            Yes, of course the Enlightenment movement must be taught, along with the consequences of it which would suggest it to be a grave misnomer. Thank God that we in the UK had Christian revival rather than Enlightened revolution.

          • gunnerbear

            “Many history teachers fall over backwards to teach The Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. It’s even in the curriculum at Key Stage 3.” HMG sets the NC…..

          • Bik Byro

            If you knew anything at all about the NC you would know that some elements in the history curriculum can be optionally included/excluded by the teacher.
            But you clearly don’t know as much as you think you do about the NC, so treat this as a learning opportunity.

          • gunnerbear

            “Many history teachers fall over backwards to teach The Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.” I’ll discount your nonsense about ‘many’ because you’ve not provided a link…. …it’s not a statutory subject but I’m not sure how you can teach UK history without mentioning the UKs involvement with and subsequent efforts to abolish slavery… …how that translates into ‘bending over backwards’ seems odd to me…unless you are MG in disguise……

          • Bik Byro

            Of all people, I would have thought that you would have been disgusted at the thought that history teachers dwell far too much on the apologetic negatives of Britain’s generally excellent proud past. I know I certainly was.

          • gunnerbear

            If you’re going to teach the history of the UK, you have to include the great bits and not so good bits…hence my comment about teaching the that yes, UK traders made a pile o’ Fivers out of the slave trade, but then the UK said, enough is enough,

          • Bik Byro

            Agreed – and taking all things into consideration we have the proudest history in the world – scientists, engineers, writers, innovators – the output and impact on the rest of the world per square mile from a relatively small island is colossal. To paraphrase Bill Bryson from one of his books, you can hardly go a few miles down any road in Britain without coming across some place of great achievement.

          • anna

            Not enough is taught about the huge contribution Britain made to disrupting the slave trade which continued after we abolished it.

            The Preventive Squadron of the Royal Navy patrolled the seas, intercepting slave ships and rescuing nearly 250,000 souls bound for a life of slavery, at the cost of 17,000 British lives.

            Nor are children taught that the slave trade was very much an African, and Muslim, tradition, long established before we cashed in on it. Giles Milton’s ‘White Gold’ tells of the Europeans in their thousands who were captured and sold into slavery in Africa. I actually have in my possession, a letter written by Alexander Ball, Governor of Malta, and a friend of Nelson, in which he congratulates a rich man who managed to pay a ransom to rescue his sea-captain son ‘from Tripoline slavery.’

          • gunnerbear

            Yep, there are stacks of stuff you teach about the history of the UK – a huge chunk of it very good!

          • CRSM

            Really? I would have thought ‘The age of enlightenment’ would have had some importance.

          • gunnerbear

            What no seed drills, no Ironmasters?

      • TheRightToArmBears

        Yes, a dreadful period.
        It’s a wonder that anyone survived to marry and become our ancestors.
        Where will you go when Brexit actually happens – Cologne, Malmo?

        • Disgruntledgoat

          Well, If you yearn for a good old inquisition against anybody insufficiently pious (your own version of pious of course), then I can see the appeal.
          I’ll probably just stay in Ghent. So no change required.

    • Reborn

      Sadly, I have to agree with you.

    • English Advocate

      Not to mention the immigration transformation which has taken place during her reign.

    • Bik Byro

      Despite the monarchic connotations of the word “sovereignty”, the sovereignty that was ceded was Parliamentary Sovereignty.

      Which makes your whole post a waste of server space.

    • thumper_the_rabbit

      I reckon our lives are quite a lot better than in 1952 …

    • gunnerbear

      We had a Civil War about the role of the Monarchy in Parliament….

  • manofthepeepl

    If Charles does not succeed his mother, the monarchy is finished anyway. You don’t choose the monarch that suits you – that’s called a republic.

    • Damaris Tighe

      Exactly – as Peter Hitchins explained here a couple of weeks ago.

    • Leo Savantt

      There is a good deal of precedent that would allow for William’s succession, it would of course help matters if Charles acquiesced; if that were to happen a republic the UK would not be.

      • Little Black Censored

        On his present showing, William is too touchy-feely for me, but he may learn self-restraint.

    • Snoffle Gronch

      Yes you do. That’s the difference between a ridiculous divine right institution like the French monarchy (gone this 170 years), and a constitutional arrangement regulated by statute.

    • Martin Adamson

      The law which currently governs the Succession is the Act of Settlement
      of 1701, lightly amended in 2011 to remove the anti-Catholic provisions of the original Act. In order for Charles not to succeed, today’s Parliament – that is, May, Corbyn, Abbott, Sturgeon, Adams etc – would have to pass an equivalent Act to abolish the existing law. Personally, I would rather be governed by George III at his maddest than to allow any living politician* the slightest degree of control over that particular lever.

      * St Jacob of Harptree excluded.

  • GOM

    I agree with a previous commentator that we tread a very risky path if we simply ‘skip’ the Prince of Wales. That said, as short a reign as possible, followed by the accession of the Duke of Cambridge would be just the tonic Jane Kelly suggests.

  • Ian Walker

    You need to be careful saying these things: as per the Treason Act 1702, it is treason to “endeavour to deprive or hinder any person who shall be the next in
    succession to the crown … from succeeding … to the imperial crown of
    this realm”

    Luckily since 1998 they’ll only lock you up for life, rather than hang you

    • Reborn

      I thought that Blair had abolished treason.
      Very wise from his personal point of view.
      I’d be happy to see it reinstated if abolished.

      • Little Black Censored

        If treason prospers, none dare call it treason.

        • Reborn

          Love your very apt quote.

  • Dougie

    Sorry, Snooty Jane, just because you don’t like the architecture of Poundbury, the fact that prices there are well above the local average shows that plenty of real people want to live there.

    I’m also rather puzzled that, as a self-proclaimed ardent monarchist, you don’t understand the key feature of a monarchy, which is that the people don’t get to choose. If the thought of Charles succeeding makes you convert to republicanism, fair enough, otherwise Charles it is.

  • Liberanos

    The reason that only one family can automatically and eternally become the Head of our State is that God gave them special blood to enable them to rule over us. Otherwise it would be completely preposterous.

    • Well, somebody’s got to do all the hand shaking, ribbon cutting and banqueting, and France is the only democratic country that I can think of that doesn’t have separate heads of state for ceremonial and executive functions (the USA assigns most of the hand shaking and ribbon cutting to the vice president).

      Would a president actually do all the hospital opening and memorial attending better than Her Maj does? And if that’s most unlikely, what’s the point? At best, you’ll be requiring the taxpayers to fund yet another round of elections, for poorer performance.

      People like the Queen, and she does the job just fine. As an American would say, “It ain’t broke. Don’t fix it.” When people propose the monarchy’s abolition, I always think, we have an EU that is fundamentally unaccountable (now coming to an end, thank goodness), an absurdly overpaid House of Commons, a House of Lords stuffed full of more than 800 time servers including David Cameron’s wife’s hairdresser, a judiciary that increasing sees its role as making law rather than applying it, a civil service that sees its role as frustrating the plans of the elected government — and what do you want to reform? The one part of our political system that actually works quite well!

    • Reborn

      Intellectually I’m a republican & always have been.
      However, our land is horribly disunited thanks to the treasonous activities of our
      political classes.
      The Queen & certain royals (far from all) have served us well & are a symbol of
      national unity.
      There is a certain aesthetic/spiritual aspect to great traditions, and as long as the
      royals fulfill their political roles, they are a great defence against the crimes of
      multiculturalism & EU membership being committed against us by our politicians
      & civil servants.

    • Snoffle Gronch

      The only reason is in fact The Act of Settlement of 1701.

      The coins may claim that it’s by the Grace of God, but it’s a lie. It’s by the Grace of Parliament..

    • Vera

      Love your comment!

  • Disgruntledgoat

    How on earth can you still be angry about Charles I? Firstly, it was nearly 400 years ago, secondly, his own arrogance and unwillingness to compromise led him to the scaffold and finally are you honestly pining for the divine right of kings?

    • Frank

      She seems to be a bit dim.

    • Little Black Censored

      His religious faith was also a reason why he would not submit.

  • JohnInCambridge

    The only reason that the idea of skipping Charles arises is the overwhelming conceit of journalists. And the only basis for what they say is the invented morality of political correctness which sets itself up as being superior to religion and tradition going back hundreds or even thousands of years. Am I, who has observed with contempt the entire development of this cockamaney Orwellian nonsense expected to accept a word of it? Not on your life.

    • TheRightToArmBears

      Poor old George Orwell, being credited and blamed for the detestable crimes he railed against.

  • Great Briton

    Not sure why you said this “We are not currently a happy nation”
    Everybody I speak to is happy enough, Unemployment at a record low, the economy booming.
    It’s only in media land where the UK is on the brink of disaster.
    Stop listening to the BBC and you will instantly be less gloomy. That’s a fact

    • thumper_the_rabbit

      Well this IS the Guardia … oh, bugger!

  • CommanderJampot

    I prefer that Charles went ahead and shot himself in the foot, rather having people doing it for him.

    You never know that Charles being King might settle him down a bit, as it is expected that our monarch remains neutral in political matters.

    • Reborn

      Charles is far from neutral in political matters.
      His past behaviour on several fronts makes him an unsuitable monarch.
      The two young princes are the finest role models we have for young men &
      are a unique combination of international celebrity combined with humanity,
      courage & decency.

      • Bik Byro

        Not quite sure how this classes as a “role model for decency” http://media.tmz.com/2012/08/21/0821-prince-harry-nude-naked-article-tmz-bottom-8.jpg

        • Reborn

          I’m not sure who the figures are, or what they are actually doing.
          If it’s sexual, rather than clowning around, so be it.
          However, the 2 persons involved appear to have been spied on,
          not co operated, & I repeat I cannot identify them.
          PS The monarch could probably be caught sitting on the WC by similar
          hidden camera techniques.

          • Bik Byro

            “I’m not sure who the figures are” – it’s Prince Harry
            “what they are doing” – playing strip billiards
            “appear to have been spied on” – in a public place

          • Reborn

            If you say so.
            I still fail to see anything wrong.
            In the 18th & 19th century men usually swam nude.
            Horsing around is very healthy for young men especially if they risk their
            lives to defend our country.
            The fact that you say they weren’t spied on underlines the innocence of
            the proceedings.
            Although privately educated up to 16, I avoided the showers after sports
            being of a sensitive/shy disposition.
            Harry, unlike me, is a brave extrovert

  • Orvis J Sage

    I do not think William and Harry are any better than Charles. They wander around emoting aimlessly about their mother, give them 10 years and a couple of divorces and scandals and we will see where we stand. You do not get normal royals, only some who are better actors than others. If you start trying to democratise it, or choose the nice one it will break down. I imagine in the Commonwealth, where age is still respected, they would be horrified by children taking over. Yes I am sure Australia et al will want their own head of state, and why not? The only reason we have a bunch of Germano-Greeks in charge is accidents of history and a (logical at the time) aversion to Catholics. Ironic is it not that the House of Windsor would be the ideal head of State for the EU? Junker must be secretly glad we are off.

    I also love the irony of marrying a divorced American actress…the queen mother must be turning in her grave!

    • TheRightToArmBears

      Surely Harry, in these enlightened and liberal times, should be marrying Diane Abbott as a gesture against racism and ageism.

  • Frank

    Nasty sneering article. Charles has done his best and his views and work have been considerably more interesting and engaging that what has come out of his eldest son so far (where the description trite Dallas royalty might seem more appropriate). Better Poundbury, than the mega basement currently being excavated under Kensington Palace.

  • CitymanMichael

    When the Queen dies, Charles will be king (if he is still alive) and Camilla will be queen.

    • English Advocate

      Yes, if one is a monarchist (I’m not) I think one should follow the rules.

    • Little Black Censored

      Does Charles sing “Lavender’s blue” to her?

  • channel.fog

    People don’t seem to understand the point of hereditary monarchy – you don’t have a choice who succeeds. If you want a choice of head of state then elect him or her. It’s as simple as that.

    • Bik Byro

      Well, it’s obvious that Jane Kelly doesn’t understand it.

      • Owen_Morgan

        Learn some history, you ignoramus.

        • Bik Byro

          Says the ignoramus who spouts off publicly about primogeniture in England, despite getting it completely confused lol

    • Owen_Morgan

      Strict laws of primogeniture date, in England, only from 1066. It was perfectly possible for there to be more than one candidate for the crown in Anglo-Saxon-Danish contexts before that. Primogeniture also assumes that the eldest male heir must succeed, even if there is an older sister. I think that that rule has already been changed, so these things are not immutable.

      • LoveMeIamALiberal

        “only from 1066”

        I suppose if I cut off your arm, you’d tell me it was but a scratch.

        • Owen_Morgan

          If somebody cut your head off, you might start to think.

          • Bik Byro

            Have you started to think about all the things you got completely wrong about primogeniture?

          • Owen_Morgan

            If you actually had anything concrete to say on the subject, I think even you would have remembered to say it. In the circumstances….

          • Bik Byro

            No, it’s more fun to let your ignorance shine through. Now go back and do some more in depth research rather than the 30 seconds you did on google before pontificating.

          • LoveMeIamALiberal

            If somebody cut your head off, it wouldn’t make any difference.

        • Bik Byro

          Owen Morgan started typing before he actually knew any facts. It’s a very common practice of his.

    • TheRightToArmBears

      The sole point of kingship, and thus a royal family, is sovereignty. Thus, Elizabeth abdicated her family’s raison d’etre when she ceded our aovereignty to Brussels.

  • Bik Byro

    “I still feel angry about the death of Charles I”
    Wow, you really have a problem moving on, haven’t you?

  • rustybear

    I have always been a Monarchist if for the only reason that the thought of an elected head of state made me feel quite ill. In that, I guess, I share something of Australia’s dilemma. Having said that the thought of any of the next crowd with the honorable exception of HRH the Princess Royal, being our Sovereign also makes me feel quite nauseous. Truth is we have often had as many bad ones as good ones, its just that in this day and age a bad one or even an unlucky good one will be crucified.

  • Snoffle Gronch

    The presence of Mrs Parker Bowles on his arm will do for Charles, especially because he will push for public honours for her.

    The man’s a conceited clod.

    • TheRightToArmBears

      A child desperate for a mother, like all the royal family.

    • SimonToo

      On the contrary, the Duchess of Cornwall seems to be a definite asset.

  • Owen_Morgan

    Charles gives the impression of trying desperately to be liked, but plaintively appealing to people who are natural republicans, who wouldn’t hesitate to deposit him in at least a figurative salt-mine, if the opportunity arose. I believe that royalists dread his succession. He is not taken seriously in this country, or anywhere else in the world, but he would be head of state in Canada, Australia and New Zealand and various other places, too. We can’t realistically skip Charles, without the agreement of the other nations where the Queen’s successor would be head of state, although it is theoretically possible.

    As for switching from a monarchy to a republic, it’s rarely all that simple. During the referendum on the monarchy in Australia, John Howard, the then PM, wrong-footed the republicans by actually thinking through the consequences. He realised that, regardless of how technically circumscribed the powers of a president might be, an elected president might gain more votes than the ruling party in Parliament, allowing that president to claim a mandate to force through an agenda without the support of the legislature. Mr Howard’s foresight won the referendum, but he was proved right, all the same, when Barack Obama abused his position to invent (or ignore) laws, on the spur of the moment, claiming a mandate from the electorate.

    And don’t imagine that republics put an end to dynasties. The Gandhis have plagued India for decades. For a long time, the name Papandreou was unavoidable in Greek politics. Argentina has had, at least twice, a catastrophic widow stepping into the shoes of her disastrous husband. At the last election in the US, Hillary Clinton campaigned with a sense of entitlement, because, well, she had lived in the White House already, while Jeb Bush was a candidate because his father and brother had both been President.

    If Charles wants to save the monarchy, he should allow the succession to pass him by. I don’t favour the abdication of reigning monarchs, as in the Netherlands and Spain, but there is nothing wrong or unconstitutional in diverting the succession, provided the relevant parties agree.

  • PierrePendre

    I fear that taking a holiday from the direct line of succession would be what the French call a bad good idea that risks giving republicans live ammunition to play with. Tampering with the hereditary principle can only weaken it for the future by making the monarchy and who succeeds to it subject to faction and politics. The monarchy was lucky to survive Edward Vlll’s abdication from both throne and duty and it wouldn’t survive a similar crisis today. The great virtue of our hereditary monarchy is its stability which is precisely what Edward betrayed and which George Vl and the queen have restored with great effort and hard work.

    A hereditary monarchy means the quality of whomever you get as king or queen is something of a lottery. Edward Vll was also seen as a dubious proposition to succeed Victoria because of his rackety life style but he turned out to be a popular king. Charles has never been popular with the media which love to snigger at his eccentricities but he’s still a serious man. Depriving him of the throne would be Diana’s revenge from beyond the grave which she doesn’t deserve and shouldn’t be inflicted on us.

    The probability is that Charles’s kingship will in any case be relatively short so the Middletons will still be quite young when they succeed him. A lot of effort has gone into portraying William as a fresh and exciting prospect as king but its an impression he owes mainly to his wife and the fact that he is Saint Diana’s orphan. He strikes me as being nerdy and something of a cypher beside the more dynamic Miss Kate. The main thing in his favour is his youth which is only an advantage if you believe that youth per se is a good thing.

    Skipping a generation to give William the crown seems to me to carry more minuses than pluses. We have time to wait for him.

  • lilly valley

    Ridiculous. Monarchists have to accept that they want this *system*, not to pick and choose which representatives of this *system* they want in place. Just get rid of this stupid and archaic *system*. Can anyone tell me what William and Kate bring to our lives? I bet they wouldn’t even recognise a photo of their children. Total wastes of space and boring to boot. Without the scandal, they have nothing.

    • Vera

      Under your system no doubt we would have had President Tony – God forbid!

      • thumper_the_rabbit

        … or even worse – King Jeremy …

  • Vera

    Yes Charles is too self pitying, too self obsessed, too gloomy, too selfish. I’m hoping the Queen outlives him, which will also solve the Camilla as Queen problem. I don’t think there’s any chance otherwise of William directly succeeding the Queen.

    • English Advocate

      The Queen is hardly a barrel of laughs.

  • Ravenscar

    Surely it will, it must gall the most capable royal, the one who really could keep the caravan on the road, someone who maintains the necessity of distance but shows great affection, loyalty and commitment to Britain, its people. Unfortunately, the Princess Royal, Anne has one or two emotionally incontinent blokes between her and the throne.

  • hugodegauche

    “I still feel angry about the death of Charles I”
    Really? I believe he didn’t care too much about you. But seriously why would you be angry at Cromwell who actually seemed to be a pretty sensible person in his views?

    • Mojo

      Cromwell turned out to be a monster, drunk with power. Which was why the monarchy was reinstalled.

  • KFN

    The line of succession is fundemental to the concept of monarchy. If you start introducing notions of popularity and public preference into the mix, then you undermine the whole institution. You are not a monarchist if you fundementally fail to grasp the concepts that underpin the political philosphy behind it.

  • RationalSpeculation

    I must be looking at a different Cambridge family. William strikes me as the embodiment of huffy entitlement, always looking bored and desperate to leave on the infrequent occasions he pitches up in public. His whole-hearted embrace of the current fashion for parading his feelings is neither seemly nor interesting. I fear he is a dullard playing the role of a celebrity who will eventually get caught out as the public become as bored of him as he seems of them.

    • thumper_the_rabbit

      I’m not a royalist at all, but William not only served as a search-and rescue helicopter pilot for four years with the RAF (and was popular with the squadrons) and then flew a civilian air ambulance for a couple of years. I don’t agree with his drawerful of titles, but he has at least done a very real job. His father’s time in the Navy and RAF was in a different, subservient era – and that influenced the way Charles views the world. He should abdicate long before his coronation.

      And I agree with Ravenscar, below – Anne is the one who should be monarch, if anyone has to be.

      • gunnerbear

        “.. and then flew a civilian air ambulance for a couple of years.” When he didn’t fancy takin’ time off to be with the family….

    • CRSM

      His half-brother appears to be a lot more normal. Though being normal isn’t necessarily a good thing if you’re a royal I guess.

    • gunnerbear

      “William strikes me as the embodiment of huffy entitlement, always looking bored and desperate to leave on the infrequent occasions he pitches up in public.” Yup and ‘is better half is a work dodger as well…

  • The Banana

    You don’t really get to choose who the next monarch is. That’s why it’s a monarchy, and not a democracy or some other form of popularity contest.

    Charles is a muppet but he’s next in line, that’s that, unless he abdicates.

  • Little Black Censored

    “…there is no genuine belfry.”
    That is strange. A prominent parish church is part of any traditional town centre. Another fake, which does have a vaguely ecclesiastical-looking, but utterly unreligious building, is Portmeiron in Wales; pretty but unconvincing and unsatisfying.

    • Bik Byro

      Portmeirion (not Portmeiron) was designed deliberately to look like an Italian town and I find it very pleasant and picturesque. There are two buildings in Portmeirion which people often mistake for churches but they do not and never have pretended to be churches.

      • Owen_Morgan

        It was built by a card-carrying commie. How unsurprising that you like it.

        • Bik Byro

          No it wasn’t. How unsurprising that you’re wrong yet again.

          • Owen_Morgan

            Yes, it was, cretin. Clough Williams-Ellis was a communist. He was married to Amabel, née Strachey, who was the sister of the nominally Labour, but actually communist, MP, John Strachey. In March, 1933, right at the worst time of the Holodomor (look it up, idiot), Clough Williams-Ellis signed a letter to the “Manchester Guardian”, extolling the Soviet Union.

            When the Belomor (“White Sea” – I’m helping you out here, Dyk Byro) Canal was completed, Amabel Williams-Ellis wrote enthusiastically in its favour. About ten thousand people died in its construction, which was totally pointless. Part of the project involved an ice-statue of Genrikh Yagoda, then chief of the secret police. By the time the canal was formally opened, Yagoda had fallen, replaced by Nikolai Yezhov, who was himself air-brushed out of the celebratory photographs, quite soon afterwards.

            Don’t try to lecture me about history.

          • Bik Byro

            “Don’t try to lecture me about history” says the person who invariably gets it completely wrong lol

      • CRSM

        Apart from the ugly concrete boat, though that did become famous for a while by ‘The Prisoner’.

        • gunnerbear

          Sorry missed your comment.

    • gunnerbear

      “but utterly unreligious building, is Portmeiron in Wales; pretty but unconvincing and unsatisfying.” Isn’t that where the they filmed the Prisoner?

  • Alaric the Vis

    The Hulme regeneration in Manchester was built on naive Poundberry principles and, after spending £350 million, it had a burglary rate three times the national average. It was all very predictable. Prince Charles means well, but when you foolishly take toytown into the inner city, people get hurt.

    • SonofBoudica

      “Inner city”? Dorchester? How funny.

      • Alaric the Vis

        Hulme, Manchester. It’s in the first sentence.

  • English Advocate

    It’s worth remembering that the prime purpose of the monarch, at least since 1688, is to be the figurehead at the apex of the Masonic-financier power structure. The monarch’s key role is guaranteeing the system for the supply of money and for the collection of taxes (the latter has an importance in relation to the former as it helps facilitate the creation of money in the form of interest-incurring debt). There then have to be arrangements for defence and policing to protect this system. Beyond that, however, the Queen is not “our Queen” and is not required to serve our interests.

    • Bik Byro

      The monarch’s role in the collection of taxes takes us back, in an interesting way, to Charles I again.

    • SonofBoudica

      That may be your view, but not shared by the majority

    • Malcolm Marchesi

      Wow , I never knew that !

    • Bonedagger

      Sad, but true.

  • castleharbour

    So the choice is between a very unattractive old couple or the younger tabloid celebs that are more Middleton chancer types than dignified QEII monarchy. None of them have any qualities that indicate a successful succession.

    Add in Fergie’s husband demanding roles for his daughters etc. etc. and the whole character of Elizabeth’s monarchy looks like it will collapse very quickly.

    No wonder she is reluctant to abdicate and live to witness the mess her dysfunctional offspring will create.

  • Bik Byro

    “strangely no school. Perhaps the prince doesn’t like children.”
    Sigh. Hardly, Jane, here it is for all to see :
    http://www.celebratingpoundbury.co.uk/damers-first-school-opens-in-poundbury-today/

    • Steve

      No humble apology from the author yet?

      Why is the school called “Damers” ? I have tried to google but no luck except that is is a street name

      • Bik Byro

        Yes, the original school was built in 1955 on Damers Road.

  • SonofBoudica

    “We must go back to the early marriage of Queen Victoria to find another William and Kate, and a similarly blazing vision of the Royal Family as a healthy, wholesome middle-class family”?

    George VI and his Queen and children were exactly that.

    • gunnerbear

      “George VI and his Queen and children were exactly that.” How posh are you if you think Royalty are middle class?

  • Steve

    I make little judgement on Poundberry until I see it but I admire the spirit that make it.

    Talk of Charles being skipped as King is nonsense (unless he is incapacitated when the time finally comes – perhaps another 10 years?). He will no more step down than HMQ will abdicate.

    And Camilla WILL be his Queen in every sense. He has already made that clear and it’s his call.

    I wonder if he might restore Diana to Royal Princess?

    And might he reign as King Philip in ho=nour of his father? Or even King Louis (for murdered Mountbatten)

  • Julian Flood

    The purpose of the monarchy is to stop people like Tony Blair becoming President.

    JF

    • CRSM

      That’s certainly a useful side-effect!

  • Malcolm

    The monarchy is heredity. Once you start to tinker with that, for whatever reason, you destabilise the very concept of monarchy and risk it being swept away. By the time Charles ascends to the throne (hopefully some years away yet) he will be an oldish man so you won’t have to put up with him for too long I suspect. There have been truly unpopular kings in our history but the monarchy survived. Picking and choosing who should be monarch might not see the same result. Indeed, the fact that we can’t hold elections for the monarch is one of its main strengths. We had enough ill-thought through meddling with our constitution during the Blair years; we don’t need any more thank you very much.

    • timbazo

      If the Monarch is determined on principle alone, why was Edward VIII forced to choose between a divorced woman and the throne and Charles not?

      • Malcolm

        Because it was a very different age when the head of the Established Church couldn’t marry a divorcee. We live in more secular times (for better or worse) but the principle of heredity hasn’t changed.

        • timbazo

          So it’s because of changing social (not legal) attitudes to divorce and not the principle of heredity.

          • Malcolm

            Of course it is, and the monarchy has been responding to social change for hundreds of years; today’s monarchy looks and acts very differently from that of George III for that reason. That doesn’t alter the principle of heredity. Once you start to pick and choose who the next monarch should be we are into the realms of politics, elections or celebrity Big Brother, any of which would sound the death knell for the whole thing. If you support the idea of constitutional monarchy you have to support heredity. If you are a Republican then you probably don’t care.

          • timbazo

            You don’t seem to get it. The Monarch is either solely determined by the heredity principle or its not solely determined by the heredity principle.

      • gunnerbear

        “..why was Edward VIII forced to choose between a divorced woman…” Because he was an out and out supporter o’ the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei and needed to be got rid of sharpish?

        • timbazo

          Thank you! So the principle of heredity does not overrule all other considerations.

          I doubt he was alone. The secrecy over Rudolf Hess’ mission would suggest that the Establishment did not want the identities of his correspondents known.

    • paul parmenter

      I am very much inclined to agree. The fact that Charles is a dull and insipid designer should not be a reason to disqualify him from the job he was both born and trained to do. Nor should the fact that he committed adultery. The history of the monarchy is riddled with activities on the “wrong side of the blanket”. But since when has that been a reason to lose the crown? Most especially when we are living in an era where adultery is commonplace – so much so that even the word Jane and I have used to describe it sounds old-fashioned and fuddy-duddy. Camilla is not greatly loved, but again that is no reason why she should not be queen. The monarchy cannot be a popularity contest. Besides, maybe, just maybe, if William and Kate have to wait for the tenure of this supposedly out of touch old couple to play itself out before they ascend the throne, it might make them even more popular (and populist) when it does happen.

  • timbazo

    Corbyn is wisely holding fire until Charles becomes King. He knows that the current Monarch is too popular and a sense of decency makes many Republicans reluctant to attack an elderly lady.

  • TTTrog

    Charles could just declare himself too old and make William Prince Regent – problem solved!

    • timbazo

      I suspect that Charles will take the title of King but, pleading old age, let William fulfil most of the duties.

  • Irene Elizabeth Brown

    If Charles is ever crowned King , as he sits on the throne in Westminster Abbey with that silly crown on his head we will all be reminded of that incident when Diana found him sitting on the throne at home in the lavatory talking dirty to Mrs Parker Bowles . .

  • Trojan

    Poundbury could become a multicultural paradise overnight if Charles built a mosque there.

    • Irene Elizabeth Brown

      He created quite a furore with the locals when he attempted to build a mosque on another of his developments in Cornwall .

  • Malcolm Marchesi

    So much of the criticism of Prince Charles is based on the media’s overblown sense of intellectual superiority to him . Most journalists of all the different types of media , went to University and got some sort of degree , many of which aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.
    They feel superior to almost everybody and the Prince of Wales is included in that group . He has more in common with the average Briton than any number of metropolitan hacks , witnessed by the fact that many of his staff have been with him for years ( those that Diana didn’t manage to force out ) Any working person will tell you that you can always tell the measure of a person only after you have worked for them , if you stay with them , they are usually genuine people . That’s good enough for me !

    • gunnerbear

      “So much of the criticism of Prince Charles is based on the media’s overblown sense of intellectual superiority to him .” No it’s because the a**ehole thinks he should be able to set policy…if the t**t wants to get involved with politics, let him stand for election.

      • Malcolm Marchesi

        I disagree !

  • derek

    Why do that to William, let him have a life first. The Monarchy is more important than who wears the crown.
    The succession is the succession and should not be subject to the angst of the chatterati.

  • Draco Was A Wimp

    Silly moo. A constitutional monarchy is like a bumble bee: you wouldn’t choose the design and in theory it shouldn’t work. The whole point is, it’s an anachronism. If you start to choose who the monarch is it’s not a real monarchy, so what’s the point? President Corbyn anyone?

  • Andrew Mitchell

    The one subject this site should cover is George Osborne and his constant attack on Mrs May, it amazes me that the Tory party aren’t getting it that every dig he makes on May, also scratches the Tory party, there’s an old saying many in the party should think about, when someone gets punched in the nose, the blood always lands on those closest to the victim, Osborne is being viewed by normal everyday people as a sniveling, two faced back stabber having a go at a woman because he hasn’t the balls to have a go at a man, and when they talk about Osborne they don’t say “George Osborne the editor of the London Standard”, they say ” George Osborne the ex “Tory” Chancellor ” the Tory party is always mentioned and thus, it takes the hit along with Mrs May. Tory MPs especially male MPs should be seen standing up for Mrs May, not only does it look better because their standing up for a woman being attacked by a man but, their standing up for their party against someone who is constantly attacking it!

    • gunnerbear

      Standing up for Mrs. May… …yeah..get them to stand up for her policy that the social care of very rich old people should be paid for by poorer younger people so rich older people can keep not paying…. …the Blues: Privatising Old Peoples Wealth …the Blues: Socialising Old Peoples Costs

    • timbazo

      You are too kind to Osborne! Many of the problems that May currently faces are down to Osborne and Cameron. Cameron called a referendum on Britain’s EU membership. He and Osborne then instructed their civil servants to do nothing to prepare for the possibility of a vote for BREXIT. When the country voted for BREXIT and the government were left completely unprepared, Cameron and Osborne decided to leave the country in the mess they had created. For all his faults and there are many, Blair never ran away from the consequences of his own actions.

      • Thomtids

        I subscribe to the view that rather than making no plan for a leave vote, the Mandarins thought out very carefully what they would have to do if such a vote occurred.
        After all, we are constantly told that our Civil Service is “the Rolls Royce”. Of course, when they deliberately act contrary to our interests, such as in the historical EEC negotiations, I seem to recall one excuse was that the Civil Servant in charge of negotiations missed the session by having fallen asleep!
        No. We are watching the carefully nuanced exercise of frustrating the popular vote. This always was Plan A, no plan would have been required had we voted otherwise than we did.

  • Ade

    Rules is rules. If you want to change them, have a referendum…

    • BobH2003

      What a great idea.
      If the question was asked of the country whether Charles or William should be next on the throne, Charles wouldn’t stand a chance.

    • Reborn

      And then watch the BBC try to overturn it —-

  • David

    A very wise article here, so thank you and well done Jane Kelly.

  • CheshireRed

    Sorry but no. HRH Charlie isn’t my favourite royal due to his interfering nature and ‘climate change’ obsession BUT he’s next in line to the throne and that’s that.
    It would hugely embarrass William (who isn’t ready to be king yet anyway) and leave Charles without a role. Would cause far more harm than good. Forget this one, it isn’t going anywhere.

    • foto2021

      William is far more ready to be King now than his grandmother was ready to be Queen in 1952. Elizabeth II has done a very fine job. I believe William would too.

    • Strange Rover

      The UK is a constitutional monarchy so primogeniture only applies if we want it to.

      Removing any public role from Charles is exactly why having the crown pass directly to William would be a good thing. As king, Charles would be a figurehead and rallying point for every ecoloon in the country, both the genuine ones and those just in it for the money.

      His beliefs may be sincere but they are nonsense. He needs to be sidelined.

  • Daniel

    Francis II, the legitimate i.e. Jacobite monarch, no connection to the nursery-nurse, no Harry, and no climate change or ivory stunts. Failing that let’s go with Princess Anne.

    • Daniel wrote:

      Francis II … failing that let’s go with Princess Anne.

      Why not do away entirely with the long obsolete nonsense that is monarchy?

    • Strange Rover

      You appear to have overlooked the Act of Settlement 1701.

  • weirdvisions

    It’s not Chuckie Boy’s age that worries me. It’s the fact that he is an arrogant, greedy, dim-witted, weapons grade hypocrite.

    Long may QEII reign. With luck she’ll outlive Chuckie and save us all the grief of giving the monarch’s seal to his ill-informed, over-opinionated interference in subjects he knows absolutely nothing about.

  • ‘ … prices there are now 29 per cent higher than anywhere else in Dorset.

    Who was it said ‘nobody ever went broke underestimating public taste’?