LBC Views: Boris and Charles were the two men at the centre of the Queen's Speech

10 May 2022, 15:41

The State Opening afforded dominant places to the Prince of Wales and Boris Johnson, David Mellor writes
The State Opening afforded dominant places to the Prince of Wales and Boris Johnson, David Mellor writes. Picture: LBC

By David Mellor

The State Opening afforded dominant places to two men, the Prince of Wales and Boris Johnson, widely regarded by their fellow citizens as having flaws.

The Prince of Wales looked the part, and acted the part, but has a lot to do to persuade the British people that he really is the part.

Some are suspicious of his inability to restrain himself from dabbling in politics. I don’t agree with that. I think much of what he has said down the years on a wide range of issues needed saying. For instance, on modern architecture, or modern agriculture.

Elsewhere though the case for the defence is more difficult to put convincingly. His treatment of Princess Diana will, rightly or wrongly – probably wrongly – never be forgiven by many.

And now there’s a new, potentially more serious, grievance; his inability to handle his son Prince Harry, allowing him to introduce into the family a self-seeking termagant, with little concept of service, only of self-promotion.

One can readily imagine Charles, watching it all from the sidelines, impotently wringing his hands. Why didn’t he step in to at least ensure that Ms Markle was properly prepared for the life of a royal, and the attendant responsibilities.

Anyway it’s his flawed and often feeble handling of his own family that leads very few people to look forward, with keen anticipation, to Charles’s kingship.

The Queen Mother lived well beyond her centenary. The Queen may well do that herself, and there will be millions of her subjects who are praying that that is what happens.

Privately, I have no doubt the Prince of Wales must desperately regret there is little real enthusiasm for him ascending the throne, or even becoming a fully fledged Regent. But he’s only got himself to blame for that.

As for Boris, he reminds me of a gifted politician of an earlier time of whom it was said, “A man possessed of every ability, save that of making himself useful to his fellow men.”

An unreformed spendthrift, Boris now promises through the Prince of Wales to commit his Government to a “responsible approach to the public finances” and continuing to bring down debt despite the cost of living crisis.

I can almost see my late mother saying, as she so often did to me, “Fine words butter no parsnips.”

Of the 38 Bills proposed, two equally significant matters are addressed. Firstly, a British Bill of Rights, setting out to destroy the influence of the European Court of Human Rights over the laws of our land. About time too!

And several deal with removing great swathes of EU law from the British statute book. What took you so long, Boris? Can this leopard change its spots on public spending? Can this despiser of detail, get on top of all the small changes needed to wrestle back power from Brussels?

Only a sea green optimist will believe so. But if the Boris premiership is to mean anything in historical terms, that’s exactly what he has to do. So even if the power of reason makes all of this very doubtful, the power of prayer might work. I’m already on my knees!