- I was at Buckingham Palace when Charles III returned as King after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
- Thousands of people cheered for his arrival, and some even chanted “Raja ki Jai Ho”.
- Given Charles’ lack of popularity among the British public, this was a ray of hope for his reign.
Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort, arrived at Buckingham Palace on 9 September, cheering in the crowd of thousands of spectators.
From where I was placed in the crowd, I could see members of the public, people of all ages, holding phones and cameras outside the palace gates, desperate to capture the new British sovereign, as he had been in the past. was. And when Charles’ convoy finally arrived, just minutes after 2 p.m., chants of “God save the king,” “long live the king” ricocheted through the crowd.
It was the day Buckingham Palace announced that Queen Elizabeth II had died peacefully at the age of 96 at her residence in Balmoral, Scotland. And although it was a moment Charles later told British Prime Minister Liz Truss he was “intimidating”, as reported by Reuters, it marked the beginning of his reign as king – a role Which he waited seven decades to get.
But those years waiting to become king have not been easy for Charles.
Time has only given the media more opportunities to scrutinize Charles. While the Queen managed to remain an extremely private person until her death, the British public has historically viewed Charles as a flawed man – and may not have wanted to be King.
There was a time when the very idea of Charles becoming king was questioned.
Whether the public could accept Charles as their king has long been a subject of speculation in Britain.
From his failed marriage to Princess Diana to the controversial beginning of his relationship with Camilla, the Queen Consort, the romantic scandals that Charles faced in the 1990s left long-lasting scars on his reputation, from which he recovered. fought for.
Diana spoke candidly about her tumultuous relationship with Charles, which has now been noted by Vanity Fair as one of the most controversial royal interviews of all time. Speaking with the BBC’s Martin Bashir, the princess confirmed that Charles was having an extramarital affair with Camilla, famously saying: “Well, there were three of us at this wedding, so there was a bit of a rush.”
His scandals were so damaging that a Mori poll of public opinion about what would make a good king in Britain fell from 82% to say that he would be only 41% in 1996 after his divorce from Diana in 1991, The New York Times reported. Gave.
The British public never forgave Charles for his marital indiscretion, even when he publicly acknowledged him and waited until 2005 to marry Camilla, who was considered unusually attractive for a royal. Marriage can be considered.
The Mirror reported that in a 2016 Opinium Research poll about the Queen’s successor, more than 2,000 people said they would prefer their son Prince William to be king.
While Charles has experienced positive press since the 1990s – he developed a public figure as a loving grandfather and champion for climate change awareness – he was again left behind when with Prince Harry. Their relationship, which left royal life behind in 2020, fractured.
When Harry told Oprah Winfrey in an interview in 2021 that Charles stopped taking her calls at one point, Insider’s Samantha Grindel reported that his popularity took a big hit.
Charles’ reception at Buckingham Palace signals a turn of the tide
As of Friday, research data group YouGov reports that despite holding the most important position within the monarchy, he remains the seventh most popular royal.
At the top of the list is Queen Elizabeth II, who royal historian and author Hugo Vickers once told Insider would be a “difficult act” for Charles to follow.
That said, I saw a glimmer of hope in the public’s genuine enthusiasm for a new regime at Buckingham Palace that cannot be ignored. A man named Linda, whom I spoke to that day, said that she could see him as a good king because she believed he had the same “sense of duty” for which his mother was famous. Was.
Linda was among the thousands of people who came to pay tribute to the Queen – and they were the only people I had seen, then moved from mourning to cheering on the arrival of Charles and Camilla.
And it’s not just what I saw that day that proved the tide was turning for Charles. YouGov released a new report on Thursday, sharing that public opinion on Charles has already “shifted significantly” following the Queen’s death. 63% of the 1,727 people voted across Britain on whether Charles would do as good a job as the king had said, while only 15% said no.
Ultimately, Charles’ reign is getting off to a better start than I – and maybe even that – expected. But how far he can climb, or fall in the eyes of the public, remains to be seen.