Queen Elizabeth fears Britain not ready for 'King Charles': new book

Mon Feb 2, 2015 10:31am EST
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LONDON (Reuters) - Queen Elizabeth fears that Britain will be shocked by the different style of monarchy Prince Charles is planning, according to a new biography of her heir apparent.

'Charles: The Heart of a King' claims that the 66-year-old prince's passion for embracing sometimes unusual causes has prompted disquiet at Buckingham Palace, where Elizabeth, 88, is set to overtake Queen Victoria in September as Britain's longest reigning monarch.

When his turn finally comes to ascend the throne, Charles plans a new model of kingship that would create a smaller monarchy and open up royal residences to the public, according to the biography.

"In the corridors and back rooms and private apartments of Buckingham Palace there is mounting anxiety as the Queen’s reign enters what an insider calls ‘its inevitable twilight’,” according to Catherine Mayer, the author of the biography, which has been serialized in the Times newspaper.

"In defining his role as heir apparent, the prince has signaled a redefinition of the monarchy. Some courtiers — and the sovereign herself — fear that neither the Crown nor its subjects will tolerate the shock of the new."

Charles's father, the Duke of Edinburgh, is among his harshest critics, the book claims, and believes the prince to be guilty of "selfish behavior" in putting his "cerebral passions" before his royal duties.

Charles himself is quoted by the author as saying: "I only take on the most difficult challenges... I want to raise aspirations and re-create hope from hopelessness and health from deprivation."

A spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the book, but a spokeswoman for the Prince of Wales released a detailed statement, saying Mayer had not been given exclusive access to the prince and emphasizing that her book was not an official biography.

In a rare comment on the kind of king Charles would be, the spokeswoman said:   Continued...

Britain's Queen Elizabeth (front L) and Prince Charles (front R) watch the sack race at the annual Braemar Highland Gathering in Braemar, Scotland September 6, 2014.   REUTERS/Russell Cheyne