King Charles faces many challenges as he ascends to the throne. Here are some key issues in its in-tray.
1. Prince Harry is expected to publish a memoir in late 2022 that his publishers have touted as the definitive account of his “life experiences, adventures, losses and lessons”. Penguin Random House, which is believed to have paid $20 million for the book, described it as “intimate and heartfelt”.
It will cover his life to date, raising the prospect of further revelations about the palace’s treatment of the Duchess of Sussex, which led to the couple’s acrimonious departure for North America, as well as the royal family’s handling of her mother’s death of when he was 12 and his father’s relationship with Camila.
The King may have to decide whether to ask to see proof before publication or whether to use lawyers to threaten action to keep sensitive family secrets or disputed claims out of print.
2. Harry has also had disagreements with the Home Office over his safety while in the UK. He is taking a high court case claiming that a change in the level of protection he received made him feel unsafe, even though he had offered to pay for the staff himself.
3. Police are investigating the Prince’s Foundation, one of the monarch’s three main charities, over allegations it solicited donations in exchange for supportive recommendations for honours.
The King has denied any knowledge of the deal, but the foundation’s chief executive, his longtime aide Michael Fawcett, has already resigned. The Mail on Sunday revealed that Fawcett had offered to help a Saudi billionaire gain a knighthood and British citizenship in exchange for generous donations.
As well as discussing the fallout from the case, it highlights a wider issue for the new King – what to do with his network of charities, which focus on his various interests from architecture and design to the environment. One suggestion is that the Princes Trust, the youth charity he founded in 1976 and of which he is still chairman, could become completely independent as he increasingly focuses on his work as head of state.
4. After Prince Andrew agreed with Virginia Guiffre in a settlement estimated at more than £10 million over her sexual assault claim in the US civil courts, the royal may face continued scrutiny over how the royal family helped the younger brother of finding the money.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment on reports that the Queen would contribute to the settlement from her private income, which comes from the Duchy of Lancaster estate. Other questions may be whether the King wants Andrew to continue living in Royal Lodge, which he rents from the Crown Estate, and whether he should continue to be known as the Duke of York.
5. The King has work to do to build his public popularity. He was only the seventh most popular royal in a YouGov poll at the end of 2021. The Queen and Prince William came first and second, behind Zara Philips and his younger sister Princess Anne. It fared even worse among millennials, falling to 11th place. Loyalty to the monarch – given that loyalty to the monarchy rates have remained above 60% for the past three years – is likely to boost this, and the king may also be counting on it given the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge will allow the family to project a more youthful image.
6. Last but not least, the King is likely to face three constitutional battles. The first will come in the form of campaigns among some of the 14 realms, triggered by the Queen’s death, to follow the example of Barbados and become a republic rather than a constitutional monarchy. Republicans in Australia are likely to be emboldened and in some Commonwealth nations, such as Jamaica and Belize, the succession will require a referendum to install King Charles as their head of state.
He may also face calls in the UK to reform the monarchy and, from a minority, at least for the time being, abolish it. With continued pressure for Scottish independence and tension over Northern Ireland’s governance, it also faces threats to the union.