The many controversies of King Charles III
At long last, Charles has been crowned. At 73, he is the oldest monarch to ascend to the British throne. This means that Charles, formerly the Prince of Wales, had plenty of time during which he collected his fair share of scandals.
Charles, who has been the heir to the crown since the age of three, has never enjoyed the same affection as his mother. His coronation day was marred by ‘Not My King’ protests with several in Britain wanting to dump the royals. The popularity of one of the world’s most famous families has been waning. Charles’ wife Camilla is now Queen but was once his mistress, a fact a section of the population has still not forgotten. And of course, there’s tension with the younger son Prince Harry and his wife Meghan.
As we look back has his legacy, what comes to mind are marital problems, his “aloof and distant” demeanour, and accusations of interfering in politics.
In June last year, a UK media outlet reported that the then heir to the British throne allegedly accepted a suitcase full of cash as a charitable donation from the former prime minister of Qatar.
According to The Sunday Times, the suitcase was one of three bundles of cash given as charitable donations which the 73-year-old received from Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani. The three lots, which reportedly totalled €3 million, were handed to the prince personally between 2011 and 2015. Each payment was reportedly deposited into the accounts of the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund (PWCF), a low-profile grant-making entity which funds projects close to the royal’s heart and his country estate in Scotland.
Despite the newspaper reporting that there is no suggestion the payments were illegal, there have been calls to investigate.
As per The Guardian, critics said it raised serious concerns about the future king’s personal judgment, especially given Qatar’s record on human rights.
One described it as more like the actions of a “South American drug baron” than a king, while another said the image of Charles’s aides counting out the cash was like a scene from the TV sitcom Only Fools and Horses.
In 2017, The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists made public its investigation into how the world’s rich and famous stash their wealth offshore.
This follow-up to the 2015 ‘Panama Papers’ dubbed ‘Paradise Papers’ named big shots such as Shakira, Bono and Lewis Hamilton. And of course, Charles himself.
As per the BBC, documents from the Paradise Papers revealed that Prince Charles’s private estate, the Duchy of Cornwall, secretly invested in an offshore company which lobbied to change climate agreements.
Sustainable Forestry Ltd lobbied politicians to amend global agreements to allow ‘carbon credits’ from rainforests to be traded.
Charles made speeches in support of this – and his estate, the Duchy of Cornwall, tripled its investment in Sustainable Forestry in the space of a year. It is not clear why this was.
The Duchy claimed the prince has no direct involvement in investment decisions.
Prince Charles denied ever speaking on a topic simply because of a company the Duchy may have invested in, as per the report.
Incidentally, Charles’ mother the late Queen Elizabeth II also made the list.
‘Black spider memos’
While the British Royal Family assiduously avoids getting entangled with government policy, Charles has not shown quite the same commitment – at least in a personal capacity.
In 2015, a cache of 27 letters – 10 by Charles himself – written to government officials including former Prime Minister Tony Blair over the years on a variety of topics including agriculture, Northern Ireland and other matters were made public.
Countless government ministers have been recipients of ‘black spider’ memos, so called because of his distinctive handwriting style, The Spectator notes.
In 2009, Charles was ensnared in a racism row after British media reported that Charles, his second wife Camilla and elder son William nicknamed a wealthy Indian property developer and polo friend Kolin Dhillon ‘Sooty’.
Those reports emerged after a race row over Charles’ younger son Prince Harry calling a Pakistani former fellow cadet ‘Paki’ in a home video made four years ago.
While Harry issued a public apology for calling Ahmed Raza Khan ‘our little Paki friend’, Britain’s royal household strongly denied either Charles or any of his two sons are racist. “We are not going to comment about a nickname which allegedly is used in a particular club,” Clarence House said in a statement.
“To imply the Princes are racist is ridiculous. Through their charity work, all three of them are committed to helping people both in the UK and abroad regardless of who they are.
“The Prince of Wales [the Charles] has a very strong view on racial intolerance. No one has been more of an advocate for the understanding and tolerance of various religious and ethnic groups and his record speaks volumes on this issue,” it added.
Dhillon, who plays polo with Charles and other royals at the Cirencester Polo Club near the Prince’s Highgrove estate, in fact came to his defence. “I have to say that you know you have arrived when you acquire a nickname. I enjoy being called Sooty by my friends, who I am sure universally use the name as a term of affection with no offence meant or felt,” said Kolin.
Dhillon added, “The Prince of Wales is a man of zero prejudice and both his sons have always been most respectful.”
Shaking hands with Mugabe
In 2005, Charles, attending the funeral of Pope John Paul II, found himself embroiled in a furore after shaking hands with then-Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe, at the time, was an outcast – the European Union had banned him from the region.
Mugabe, a Roman Catholic, defied the ban to attend the funeral at the Vatican, which is not part of the European Union.
The European Union had imposed travel sanctions on Zimbabwean government officials after accusations of vote rigging in Zimbabwe’s parliamentary polls in 2000.
“The Prince of Wales was caught by surprise and wasn’t in a position to avoid shaking Mr Mugabe’s hand,” a spokeswoman for the Prince, trying to defuse the uproar, said at the time.
Snubbing China over Dalai Lama
In 1999, Charles was accused of snubbing then-President Jiang Zemin by declining an invitation to a farewell banquet at the Chinese embassy. The heir to the British throne, known to be an admirer of the Dalai Lama, was said to have wanted nothing more to do with the then-president, The South China Morning Post reported then.
Charles’ absence was made even more notable after several members of the royal family including Queen Elizabeth were in attendance at the official banquet.
The banquet, which followed the strict protocol of state visits to Britain, was a response to a banquet given in then-president Jiang’s honour at Buckingham Palace at the start of his visit.
Mark Bolland, his former senior aide, described Charles as a ‘dissident’ working against the ‘prevailing political consensus’, as per The Spectator.
With inputs from agencies
Read all the Latest News, Trending News, Cricket News, Bollywood News, India News and Entertainment News here. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.