What are the politics of King Charles - do we have a liberal monarchy, asks Andrew Marr

3 May 2023, 18:25

Andrew Marr ponders whether the previously 'outspoken' King will be more restrained during his reign

By Will Taylor

Andrew Marr has asked: "What are the politics of the new king?"

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Speaking at the start of Wednesday's Tonight with Andrew Marr on LBC, he noted King Charles's different acts that could be perceived as political.

"Real sunshine at last. And the dappled light of Westminster is falling on old chaps in top hats and tails, and women in huge hats and silk dresses; as well as soldiers with shiny boots and more police than I'd realised were actually employed by the country,"

"Parliament, in short, is already getting very excited about this weekend's coronation. Even the Speaker's pet parrot has been coached to be loyal.

"But this coming together of the world of politics and the start of the reign of Charles III leads to an important question that’s rarely talked about: what are the politics of the new king?

"You wouldn't have asked the question about his mother because the late Queen was so carefully opaque, so restrained throughout her long life there was never really an answer.

"We might guess that she wasn't a full-blown Marxist but beyond that details were rare and hard to come by.

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"With Charles, it's of course very different: as Prince of Wales he was outspoken about the environment, biodiversity, agriculture, global warming, race relations and the behaviour of oppressive regimes abroad.

"He was no fan of the Iraq War He would on occasion bombard ministers with letters urging them to do this or that - the notorious so-called black spider letters, a reference to his handwriting. He's said himself that he’s not so stupid as to speak out in the same way as King - he understands the difference - but interestingly, he's been giving what we might call hand signals.

"As the monarch of post-Brexit Britain he wanted his first state visit to be to France and when that was impossible because of the riots there, he went to Berlin where he spoke to the Bundestag in German.

"Then, in February, when Rishi Sunak was trying to tie up the Windsor framework over the Northern Ireland protocol, the King hosted Ursula von der Leyen, the EU president at the palace - and was roundly criticised by Jacob Rees Mogg and Nigel Farage for doing so.

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"Earlier on, he gave hundreds of his staff a £600 payment from his own pocket to help them through the cost of living crisis - was that also a little message to the government?

"We remember fondly his "dear, oh dear" greeting two Liz Truss when she came to see him at the end of her short and disastrous premiership.

"He's visited a food charity in East London, his son William has been to a homelessness charity and sold the Big Issue on the streets. More recently still the king has ensured that those invited to his Coronation included more than 850 so-called local heroes who'd helped their communities.

"People like the boy who slept in a tent to raise money for a hospice or a teenage leukemia survivor who persuaded supermarkets to help elderly people in Blackburn during the pandemic lockdowns - rather than the usual political suspects. I don't think he's party political.

"But I do think we are beginning to see a pattern here which suggests that we have, put it this way, a liberal or communitarian tinge to the monarchy."