Europe

King’s ‘constitutional impotence’ laid bare in Christmas speech

King Charles III delivers his first Christmas message

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King Charles’s first Christmas speech shows how powerless he actually has, a constitutional expert has claimed. The monarch shared a lot of positivity in his words, which were broadcast on BBC 1 this afternoon, including saying he shared with his late mother Queen Elizabeth II “faith in people” who can touch the lives of others with “goodness and compassion”.

This was something he described as being the “essence of our community and the very foundation of our society”.

But the aspect which stood out the most for royal and constitutional commentator Peter Hunt was when the king spoke about food banks and the cost-of-living crisis.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Hunt said: “The cost-of-living crisis features in Charles’ Christmas broadcast: ‘….at this time of great anxiety and hardship…for those at home finding ways to pay their bills and keep their families fed and warm…’

“Foodbanks, once remarkable and shaming for a nation, now normalised.”

He added: “The broadcast captures a constitutional king’s impotence – he can praise those who help, but he can’t question publicly why more isn’t being done to prevent such hardship.”

Before he became king a few short months ago, the then Prince Charles was a passionate campaigner – especially on environmental issues.

And the so-called “black spider memos”, which were sent by Charles in 2004 and 2005 to Tony Blair’s Government showed him making policy demands to the Prime Minister and his ministers.

In the 27 letters he demanded urgent action on everything including improvements to the equipment for the troops fighting in Iraq, to wider availability of alternative herbal medicines in the UK.

And The Guardian reports that in one letter from 2005 he urged a badger cull to prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis, proposed his own aide to brief Downing Street on the design of new hospitals, brought up the herbal medicines issue, and lobbied for his preferred person to be appointed to crack down on supermarkets mistreating farmers.

But now, even though he may want to suggest a solution to the cost-of-living crisis or ask the Government what the plan is, he cannot.

As the head of state he must act like his late mother did, speaking and acting on the advice of ministers – rather than trying to advise them.

She did not attempt to intervene in politics, or even to express a political opinion.

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The closest she got to any perceived kind of public opinion about politics was when she opened parliament in 2017.

She wore a fabulous blue hat with yellow flowers and this led to speculation that she was secretly against Brexit.

But this speculation was quickly shut down by Angela Kelly, who is the Queen’s personal dresser and close friend.

Writing in her book The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe, she said: “We chose a Breton-brim block style, which would create an upturned brim, so Her Majesty’s face could be clearly seen, and The Queen could see everyone in the room.

“We chose a large square crown to balance the brim and five flowers, made from feathers with tiny seed pearls, painted yellow.

“It never occurred to Stella and me that people might think we were copying the European Union flag.”

 

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