A sensational claim that King Charles’s coronation could spark a constitutional crisis because of his confession of adultery has been dismissed by leading experts.
On Friday, Anthony Holden, who wrote a biography of the King, sent a letter to The Guardian newspaper arguing that any coronation was likely to be invalid.
Holden wrote: ‘The Church of England has never crowned a divorced man as King, let alone one who has publicly confessed to adultery – with the relevant woman expecting to be crowned Queen Consort.
The late Robert Runcie [the former Archbishop of Canterbury] told me this would require a revision of the coronation oath, which would require a new statute of Parliament.
‘Given the convention that Parliament does not debate the monarchy without the monarch’s consent, this would require the Prime Minister to seek King Charles’s permission. This, Runcie told me, would amount to a constitutional crisis.’
King Charles leads global tributes to Pope Benedict XVI
King Charles today led tributes to ‘God’s Rottweiler’ Pope Benedict XVI after his death aged 95, with the monarch expressing his ‘deep sadness’ at the death of the ex-pontiff as he praises his ‘efforts to promote peace and goodwill to all people’.
Within minutes of the announcement of the death of Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday morning, a wealth of tributes poured in from around the world, while the Vatican revealed that the late pontiff would be given a ‘simple’ funeral.
While a year-end holiday mood was palpable in the square of the small Bavarian town where the former pope was born in 1927, church bells tolled solemnly at St Oswald Church in Marktl am Inn, near the Austrian border.
The king acknowledged the former pontiff’s ‘constant efforts to promote peace’ and to ‘strengthen the relationship between the global Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church’, adding he received the news with ‘deep sadness’.
Holden’s views on the monarchy have altered with time. In 2002 he wrote a Guardian article titled ‘From flag-waver to republican’, stating: ‘The more I studied the House of Windsor, the more of a republican I became.’
But Sir Vernon Bogdanor, a research professor at King’s College London’s Centre for British Politics and Government, dismissed Holden’s argument.
He said: ‘Charles and Camilla’s wedding was followed by a Service of Prayer and Dedication, led by Archbishop Rowan Williams.
‘This surely overrides anything Robert Runcie may or may not have said.
‘It is clear that the King has obeyed the rules of the Church. Rowan Williams is, I think, in a better position to interpret the rules of the Church than Anthony Holden.’
Royal biographer Hugo Vickers said: ‘I can’t see what the problem is. For many years Holden has held a grudge against the King. To him I would say, times move on.’
Barrister Geoffrey Robertson KC said: ‘The coronation is a legal irrelevance, just a silly and superstitious Church of England ritual. Charles has no need at all to be crowned by a minority church.’
A Lambeth Palace spokesman said: ‘We can’t comment on accounts of a private conversation that Robert Runcie may have had while he was Archbishop from 1980 to 1991.
‘But clearly much has changed since that time – both in society and in the Church of England.
‘The current Archbishop, Justin Welby, is looking forward to crowning King Charles III and the Queen Consort in May.’
Just three days before Christmas, a rather unlikely figure could been seen bopping in the aisles at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the hottest gig in town.
Amazingly, none of the thousands of fans crammed in to watch Abba Voyage — which features the Swedish band’s holographic avatars performing live — realised that our very own ‘Dancing Queen’ Consort was having the time of her life, taking her five grandchildren to the must-see concert as a festive treat.
The outing in East London is a perfect example of how our King and his wife have taken the demands of their new roles in their stride, respecting old traditions while embracing the new — and keeping family (well, most of them) close.
It’s already clear that the new ‘Carolean era’ will represent a more modern monarchy than ever before. And while it has not been without the odd bump — more of which later — courtiers are quietly pleased at how well Charles’s first 100 or so days as King have gone.
‘Everything His Majesty has done has hit the right tone,’ his former communications chief, Kristina Kyriacou, tells me.
‘Both the King and Queen Consort have just got on with things and are taking care of business. The King has really come across as the elder statesman and seems to have grown in stature. He has always been a fantastic listener and convener.
‘But what we have seen during his first 100 days is him convening everybody in a more statesmanlike way. All the King cares about is serving the British public. He just wants to do the job he sees as his destiny.’
Another well-placed insider says: ‘It’s definitely been a very strong start. The King has not been afraid to address head-on the concerns that people had about him [as regards his alleged political ‘meddling’].
‘He has proved his respect for the constitutional guidelines that come with being monarch, emphasized the importance of us living in a multicultural world and promoted religious tolerance.
He’s referenced the family when important — such as mentioning Harry and Meghan in his first speech as King — but has simply got on with the job in hand when they have risked becoming a distraction.’
And, of course, Charles has done all of this while privately grieving the loss of his mother.
‘It has been a very emotional time for the King,’ says one who knows the 74-year-old sovereign well.
‘He and his wife have also launched themselves into a physically demanding programme at a time when many of their age are slowing down. The stakes are higher and the scrutiny greater than ever before. But they know how to pace themselves and the Queen Consort, in particular, is very good at getting her husband to take a step back at times.’
Indeed, there’s no doubt that Camilla, 75, is proving, much like the Duke of Edinburgh before her, to be the monarch’s ‘strength and stay’. She has become a ‘wise sounding board’, says one senior aide, and is also ‘just a great companion’.
Another family friend remarks: ‘They genuinely have a wonderful relationship and are a great team, but they don’t live in each other’s pockets. She is also one of the few people who is prepared to stand up to him when the circumstances are right. Plus she has this fantastically close family with teenage grandchildren of her own, which is rather grounding. It’s taken quite a while to get there, but I think many people who once thought that Camilla was the problem have come to see that she is actually part of the solution.’
The couple, I am told, will continue to use their own homes (Highgrove for him, Ray Mill for her) as well as royal residences including Windsor and Sandringham. But it is Birkhall in Scotland — all ‘muddy wellies, wet dogs and afternoon teas’ — that they see as their ‘marital home’, according to one source.
The question of whether the King’s wife will drop the ‘Consort’ from her title and become known simply as Queen Camilla has yet to be decided. But many in palace circles think this will just happen ‘organically’, probably after the Coronation.
Prince Charles and Prince Louis attend the Platinum Jubilee Pageant outside Buckingham Palace in London, June 2022
One source says: ‘Some have dropped the ‘Consort’ already — it’s worth noting that she now has ‘Queen’s Companions’ instead of ladies-in-waiting — but there’s no fixed plan. I think people will just find themselves saying it naturally.’ The distribution of other family titles is also on the back burner, I understand.
I am told that the King has no immediate plans to hand out the Dukedom of Edinburgh that reverted after the death of his father to Queen Elizabeth, and now to him. The late Queen intended for it to be given to the Earl of Wessex, her youngest son, who does a great deal, along with his wife Sophie, for the late Prince Philip’s eponymous awards scheme.
It could yet go to Prince Edward, but the current thinking is that such a senior title — particularly one associated with Scotland —should not go to the 13th in line to the throne (and descending).
While some have suggested it will go to seven-year-old Princess Charlotte — one of a number of options on the table — others feel little Prince Louis, four, is a more likely future inheritor.
More troubling is the issue of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s children, Archie, three, and Lilibet, one, who can be ennobled now that their grandpa is King.
However, I am told that this thorny issue is one that Charles has firmly put to one side for the time being. ‘Anything to do with his grandchildren will be decided once they [Harry and Meghan] stop lobbing salvos into the palace,’ says one royal insider. ‘No decision or pronouncement can be made on that issue until the King is confident that the decision he makes can withstand any activity on either side in the long term — and they are not in that place right now.
‘Monarchs move with great caution and reflection and there is no obligation to rush. The King will, of course, need to make a decision at some point — but the Sussexes’ activity is still so changeable that it’s just hard to take any firm decisions at this stage.’
Recently, I revealed that the Sussexes have told friends that once Harry’s memoir Spare is published next month, their focus will be on healing the family rift. Those on this side of the Atlantic are, perhaps understandably, a little more skeptical.
‘They said their Oprah Winfrey interview was the one time they were going to air these private family issues — and since then we have had a couple of TV projects, podcasts, interviews, the docu-series, the book,’ a well-placed source says.
‘The big question about the Sussexes is whether they can exist outside of a position of conflict with the institution. Everyone hopes they can but I’m not sure they commercially feel able to. Plus, they clearly believe everything they say. The interpretation they have of events is as true for them as it is untrue to everyone else who was involved.
‘But the family want closure, not further acrimony. There will never be a day where, despite their most awful behaviour, the King would not welcome his son into his arms.’
Another source adds: ‘Yes, His Majesty continues to be very bewildered by the whole thing. He hasn’t watched [Netflix’s Harry & Meghan] series and will not read [Harry’s] book — but he knows what he needs to know, and he’s very upset.
‘He loves his son. But one of the King’s great skills is to compartmentalise. While he may be feeling Harry’s absence acutely and be concerned about the potential impact on the institution, he will also be focused very strongly on the job he has to do. There’s nothing he can do about it now, so there’s no point in losing any sleep at this stage.’
Although Charles came off ‘lightly’ in terms of criticism during Harry’s recent score-settling on Netflix, royal insiders are decidedly ‘apprehensive’ about his memoir, which will be published on January 10.
‘In Netflix, the villain of the piece had clearly moved on to being [William], the Prince of Wales. Harry and Meghan actually had some nice words to say around the King’s role in helping them plan their wedding,’ one source points out.
‘Are they saving their ire for the book instead? Who knows. You can’t not feel sorry for Harry. He is fundamentally the product of a very damaged childhood. But you can also feel sorry for the individual and frustrated at the world he has created for himself, where he sees enemies at every turn. Despite it all, I know the institution would [still] have him back in a heartbeat.’
Another courtier describes the Netflix series as ‘wearying and saddening’ but adds: ‘The attitude internally was ‘keep calm and carry on’. The hope is that the waters will settle. The family haven’t reacted so far and it’s unlikely that approach will change.’
There is, as I reported recently, an open invitation for Harry and Meghan to attend all family events, including next May’s Coronation, although the guest list is yet to be confirmed. Whether they will come is another matter. Whatever the Sussexes decide, there is no doubt that our first Coronation for 70 years will still be a magnificent spectacle.
Both royal aides and government officials believe the enthusiastic public reaction to the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations and her funeral suggest that people expect a proper royal event.
One Whitehall source explains: ‘The Government is keen for it to be a great moment of national celebration because this year’s events have been a fabulous advertisement for Britain. We do pomp and pageantry in a way that no other nation can. Despite what some American papers would have you believe, Britain does have a special place in the world.’
Another source adds: ‘The King and Queen Consort and their advisers are keenly following the debate to ensure they are striking the right balance between this moment of celebration and something that can be done against a very challenging economic backdrop.
‘Lest we forget, [the late Queen’s Coronation in] 1953 was also a time of great austerity and economic difficulties. So it’s not the first time that the family have had to marry the concerns of the nation with the opportunity the Coronation brings.’
I am told that planning is continuing apace and that the Queen Consort has already sourced a suitable dress and mantle (the cloak she will wear), and she has also chosen her crown. Many now believe she will opt for the late Queen’s diamond diadem.
Buckingham Palace is planning a series of visits to all four corners of the United Kingdom over the next few months in the run-up to the big day.
Before then, we can also expect the King and Queen Consort’s first state visit — to an as-yet-undisclosed country. And while I understand Charles also plans to keep the ‘hardy annuals’ of the royal calendar — such as Royal Ascot, the garden parties and the Maundy Service — going, staff are looking at ‘tweaking’ some of these events to make them more relevant to the modern age.
Other changes are also under way in the Royal Household.
Some staff have lost their jobs as Charles’s old team at Clarence House have merged in recent weeks with the late Queen’s existing one at Buckingham Palace. This has resulted in some inevitable unhappiness and tension.
The late Queen’s most powerful and devoted female member of staff, Angela Kelly, who acted as her Majesty’s dresser and personal confidante, has been firmly frozen out.
The King and his team were inherently suspicious (and possibly a little jealous) about the degree of influence Kelly enjoyed thanks to the ageing monarch.
Britain’s King Charles and Queen Camilla pose for a picture at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Britain November, 2022
Within days of the Queen’s passing in September, the locks were changed to bar Kelly from access to the royal apartments at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, where she retains a grace-and-favor home.
She has written two books and is believed to be working on a third about her life with the Queen. Many suspect she may try to use the tome to settle a few scores. But I can also reveal that, despite being thoughtfully offered jobs for life by the King, two other of the Queen’s most beloved servants, her Page of the Backstairs, ‘Tall Paul’ Whybrew, and the late Queen’s groom, Terry Pendry, have now decided to leave in the spring. Neither felt things would be the same without their old mistress.
I am told that their retirements were accepted with sadness but no ill will.
As for the family, Charles and William — who, let us not forget, have endured their own tensions over the years — are closer than ever before.
The only blip has been a recent moment of friction over the handling of William’s godmother, Lady Susan Hussey — the Queen’s former lady-in-waiting who stepped down after repeatedly asking a British charity campaigner what part of Africa she came from.
Some at Buckingham Palace felt the situation was ‘unhelpfully’ inflamed by Kensington Palace’s ‘over-hasty’ decision to enter into the fray with a public pronouncement on the row.
A spokesman for the Prince of Wales said at the time: ‘Racism has no place in our society, these comments were unacceptable and it is right that the individual concerned has stepped down.’
He is right, of course, and there was sympathy that the incident came as he was about to embark on a high-profile visit to the U.S. But it was deemed perhaps an ‘unnecessary’ intervention at a particularly delicate moment for the royal household, according to several with knowledge of the situation.
This was, it must be stressed, however, more a case of internal eye-rolling than any full-scale row, in what has proved to be a strong partnership between the King and the heir to the throne.
William will be by his father’s side at the Coronation on May 6 — while Harry, having stepped down from royal duties, will be unlikely to undertake any ceremonial duties at the event, if he attends at all.
The House of Windsor, then, has much to look forward to in the coming year — and, notwithstanding a few difficulties emanating from California, ‘steady as she goes’ seems the royal order of the day.
Diana’s memory is still fresh. Camilla should be consort only. Charles can stuff it.
Charles3 buffoonery continues. On the world stage he has little credibility unlike the dominating presence HRH QEII had.
He & the horse-face women can indulge in all sorts of events desperately trying to rehabilitate their sordid past.
He should have abdicated & retired letting the new generation take the reigns. Nope, he’s gotta have his due.
The monarchy will take a huge hit under his buffoonery thereby increasing the degradation of the royal family. There is already afoot efforts to end the British monarchy.
CHARLIE IS A ROYAL NOTHING….CHARLIE & CAMILLA ARE BOTH ADULTERESS LEACHES AND DO NOT DESERVE TO BE CALLED A KING OR QUEEN….IF HE IS CROWNED THE THE ROYAL FAMILY ARE GOING TO BE DEAD TO THE UK CITIZENS..