I’m not that stupid – Charles won’t ‘meddle’ when he is king

The Prince of Wales has said he will stop speaking out on issues when he becomes king, saying he is “not that stupid” to continue what some have termed as “meddling”.

Charles has been criticised in the past for his views on topics such as the environment and architecture, but said he recognises being heir to the throne and head of state are two different roles.

Interviewed for a BBC documentary about his 70th birthday, the prince acknowledged he would not be “able to do the same things I’ve done as heir” and as monarch would have to operate within “constitutional parameters”.

Speaking in detail about his future role as head of state, he said: “You know, I’ve tried to make sure whatever I’ve done has been non-party political, and I think it’s vital to remember there’s only room for one sovereign at a time, not two.

“So, you can’t be the same as the sovereign if you’re the Prince of Wales or the heir.

“But the idea somehow that I’m going to go on in exactly the same way, if I have to succeed, is complete nonsense because the two – the two situations – are completely different.”

Prince of Wales’ 70th birthday
Charles was interviewed for a BBC documentary about his 70th birthday (BBC/Crux Productions/Clarence House/Hugo Burnand/PA)

Asked whether his public campaigning will go on, he added: “No, it won’t. I’m not that stupid. I do realise that it is a separate exercise being sovereign. So of course I understand entirely how that should operate.”

Asked about what some have termed his “meddling”, Charles defended his actions, which include establishing the Prince’s Trust in 1976 to help disadvantaged young people.

He said: “But I always wonder what meddling is. I mean, I always thought it was motivating, but I’ve always been intrigued, if it’s meddling to worry about the inner cities, as I did 40 years ago, and what was happening or not happening there.

“The conditions in which people were living. If that’s meddling I’m very proud of it.”

Longest-serving heirs
(PA Graphics)

Lord Hain said he welcomed “regular interactions” with Charles when he was a cabinet minister.

“I don’t think we expect the monarchy to be either stony-face silent or to have no views,” Lord Hain told the Press Association, adding: “I’ve never been a monarchist, but if you believe in a monarchy, then I don’t see why the monarch currently or the future monarch should be expected to be completely view-less and silent on everything.”

Asked if he thought it was a shame that Charles has said he will not speak out on issues, Lord Hain said: “No. I respect his point of view, just as I respected our dialogues when I was in government.”

Anti-monarchy campaigners Republic said: “Charles has routinely abused his position of power, privately lobbying cabinet ministers and influencing government policy with his own political agenda.

“It’s unsurprising that the royals are rushing to change Charles’s public image as he prepares to become king, but does he really expect us to believe he won’t capitalise on all the powers he’s about to inherit?”

The documentary captures the future king in private and public, from feeding vegetable scraps to his chickens and collecting their eggs at his Highgrove home in Gloucestershire, to visiting Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to highlight climate change, and Caribbean islands devastated by a hurricane.

Royal visit to Australia – Day Three
The Prince of Wales looks at the Great Barrier Reef during a trip at Lady Elliot’s Island in Australia (Steve Parsons/PA)

In the film he says of his role as Prince of Wales: “You have to make of it what you feel is right.

“So, there’s nothing laid down, that’s what makes it so interesting, challenging and of course complicated.”

The Duchess of Cornwall describes in the documentary how Charles was driven by the need to help others, adding: “He would like to save the world.”

Charles and Camilla are coming to the end of a west African tour and are expected to spend Thursday in the Nigerian capital of Abuja when he is due to hear about efforts to bring communities together in Plateau State.

Prince, Son And Heir: Charles At 70 will be screened on Thursday at 9pm on BBC One.