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Tuesday, August 13, 2013 

Waiting for kingship.

Here's a question that doesn't seem to have an answer: just how long does it take someone to prepare to become king?  Depending on whether you measure it from when Mumsie became Queenie, or from when little Prince Charlie was born, the one and only Duchy Original has either been waiting in vain for 61 or 64 years.  Despite being the longest serving heir apparent in British history though (® Wikipedia), it seems he still isn't quite ready to take on the reins, at least if we're to believe successive governments.  Both the coalition and the last Labour government vetoed the release of 27 letters written by Charles to ministers over a seven-month period, although it was left to Dominic Grieve to explain this was necessary as to prevent anyone falling under the misapprehension that Chaz wasn't politically neutral when expressing his "most deeply held personal views and beliefs", when all he was merely doing was "preparing for kingship".

This latest defence of our glorious Prince of Wales comes after the Mail discovered that since 2010, Charles has had just the 36 meetings with ministers (or 53, if you count the ones with juniors as well).  That this is almost certainly more than some of those ministers have had with the prime minister is clearly nothing to be concerned about; no, according to Tim Loughton, one of those lucky enough to have dunked biscuits with his royal highness, it's a "grotesque caricature" to portray these meetings as lobbying sessions.  Rather, ol' big ears is a concerned citizen who just so happens to have the influence to get personal sessions with senior politicians, and he's "well briefed and knowledgeable", the engagements even "hugely beneficial".  Again, these meetings also help him to prepare for his "future role as king".

Indeed, Clarence House presents these cosy arrangements as being the "Prince's right", even his "duty", to bring his "unique perspective" and "reflect the many issues people raise with him personally".  If we were being cynical, which we're obviously not, then we might suggest at this point that discussions that consist precisely of Charles regaling ministers with all the jobs people he's met do might be a bit dull.  Clearly though, Charles is nothing if not a sponge, soaking up the concerns of ordinary people only to then drench the minister unlucky enough to have picked the short straw this month.

The first question then leads to a second.  If Chaz's preparing for kingship only ends once he's crowned, then just how did Brenda herself get ready to become queen?  Did she start preparing to become queen only once she was heir presumptive, was it from birth, or was it from when she took on public duties during WWII?  Did this involve bringing her "unique perspective" on how the war could be brought to an end sooner, or did she perhaps confine her views to the nationalisations of the Labour government after 1945?  Was there a meeting between Ernest Bevin and Liz on what should be done about India, maybe, or have a chat with Nye Bevan about the establishment of the NHS and the possible inclusion of homoeopathy?

Whichever it was, Lilibet prepared for her queenship for only a fraction of the time Charles has been doing so, and most tend to agree that on the whole, she's been fairly good at it.  Isn't it then perhaps time that the heir stopped preparing and maybe started, err, acting like an actual monarch?  Or is that too terrible a prospect for all concerned to consider?

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