The Emperor's New Clothes (17/02/13)

That Prince Charles – never done a real job and sticking his nose in all over.... Good thing too, says Matthew Bell

Share
Related Topics

The Prince of Wales has already presented the TV weather; now he's doing Countryfile. It's a natural progression, and one day he might get his own show, And What Do You Do? Conversations from the Hothouse. But wait – it's all too easy to poke fun at the Queen's heir. It's become a default reaction, like laughing off a Boris blunder. Is it fair, though?

For while the Queen has attained Clare Balding status, beloved now even of Woman's Hour; and Prince William – with his flawless wife, and Chelsea bun in the oven – is a model of nobility; the dinner-party position on Charles is that he's a dangerous buffoon, who'll make a terrible king. In fact, the evidence suggests otherwise.

Here is a man who has had plenty of time to think things through, and who cares enough about the big issues to risk voicing an opinion. On the environment, food, urban planning – Charles speaks out against the paper-clip panjandrums who claim to know best. The fear is that, when he accedes to the throne, we will lose a benign diplomat and gain a tin-pot meddler, firing off royal edicts like the bad days of Henry VIII.

Yes, he writes letters, and yes, he says what he thinks. But Charles is no radical. He is deeply conservative, and just wants to keep everything as he loves it: old buildings, communities, pot plants. He actually cares about what a new block of flats in Chelsea will look like, he minds that farmers are going to the wall.

Last week, he got behind an old-fashioned fishmonger threatened with closure by the council for causing a smell. Not many multimillionaires would take the trouble.

What the Prince of Wales's critics seem to mind is that he has conviction. But isn't that exactly what we wish more of our leaders had? Isn't it because our political parties are on the same beige Farrow & Ball colour swatch that we have this unhappy coalition squabbling over a muddy middle ground? The sad truth of the age of PR is that in order to survive in public life, you are better off saying nothing. Just look at the Queen. Whatever you think of his views, at least the reign of the next monarch will bring fireworks.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)

£350 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...

Recruitment Resourcer

£18000 - £22000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Recruitment Resour...

2nd line support - Derbyshire - 6 months

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: 2nd line support - Derbyshire - 6 months...

Sharepoint Technical Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is a dynamic, fast-growing, fa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

What makes dolphins so mysterious? Now is the time to see for yourself

Michael McCarthy
 

Voices in Danger: The innocent journalist kidnapped by Russian separatists for 'spying'

Anne Mortensen
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried