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11 Reasons British Citizens Didn’t Want Charles to Be King

If some people had their way, another royal might have been the new king of England

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A king of the people?

King Charles III, who ascended the throne after Queen Elizabeth’s death on Sept. 8, 2022, was the longest-serving heir apparent in British history. But he didn’t enjoy great popularity with British citizens after the private details about his marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales, became public knowledge. In fact, polling in the years before the queen’s death revealed that British citizens vastly preferred the idea of another member of the royal family tree, Prince William, becoming king instead of Charles.

But things have changed—and quickly. A YouGov survey taken shortly after the queen’s death showed faith in the newly minted King Charles skyrocket, with 63% of people saying they believe he will do a good job as monarch. That’s a whopping 31% increase from the previous poll. Respondents who watched his first speech as king overwhelmingly approved of it, and 73% thought he’d provided good leadership since the queen’s death. While only time will tell if public sentiment remains high, these are the reasons the public wasn’t all that excited by the idea of Charles becoming king in the past.

Prince william and duchess KateMax Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

They favored William and Kate

The newly minted Prince and Princess of Wales and their three children are adored in England. In fact, a 2019 survey by BMG Research revealed that nearly half of the British public wanted Charles to step aside and give the throne to his oldest son when Queen Elizabeth II passed away. Prince William and Kate Middleton have now been married for more than a decade. The Atlantic calls them a “fairy tale,” with their picture-perfect family and their distinct lack of scandals. Plus, William and Harry are the most liked royals “since records began,” according to the Evening Standard, so it makes sense that people wanted to see their most liked royal on the throne. That said, Prince Harry’s popularity may have taken a hit since he and Meghan “stepped back” from their royal duties.

princess diana Bettmann/Getty Images

They still had an affinity for Princess Diana

Princess Diana once said that she wanted to be the queen of people’s hearts, and that very much proved to be the case. It’s also a big reason many people didn’t like her ex for so long—and truth be told, they still haven’t forgiven him for the bad things he did to Diana during their ill-fated marriage. Charles publicly admitted that he started having an affair with Camilla Parker Bowles in 1986 while he was still married to Princess Diana. He also treated Princess Diana poorly on a number of occasions. The public, who is still protective of Diana, has been at least partially unwilling to move past Charles’s past offenses.

Camilla duchess of cornwallJonathan Brady - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Many didn’t want to see Camilla as the queen

The 2019 survey from BMG Research also revealed that only 20% of people thought Camilla should take the title of queen, but now, Camilla’s popularity is at an all-time high of 53%, according to the recent YouGov poll. Camilla now has the title of queen consort, which came with the queen’s blessing before her death, and the general public has warmed up to Camilla in recent years. The Guardian reports that Camilla won many people’s hearts by tirelessly working for her charities without a lot of fanfare. Although she is in a relationship that has been scrutinized like no other, she’s a private person and takes actions to guard her privacy whenever possible.

prince william and prince charlesAnwar Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images

They didn’t want a “petulant” king

If you peruse most of the bestselling books about the royals, you’ll see that Charles isn’t exactly praised by biographers. Even those with a credible connection to him are quick to point out his flaws. For example, Tom Bower, author of Rebel Prince, describes Charles as being petulant and uncaring about the times when he causes harm. Some of his private rants and tantrums have been made public, further damaging his reputation. This is what really happened between Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

Prince CharlesGeoff Caddick - WPA Pool/Getty Images

They thought he wouldn’t do a good job

As noted, until very recently, many British citizens were concerned about how effective Charles would be as king. The role of a reigning monarch is not one to be taken lightly by any means, and people feared that he wouldn’t rise to the occasion. But now that he is king, sentiment has changed, and he has the chance to prove those previous naysayers wrong. Here’s what it’s really like to work for the royal family.

prince charlesChris Jackson/GP/Getty Images

A longer reign offers a reassuring consistency

King Charles’s reign as king will inevitably be far shorter than Queen Elizabeth’s time on the throne. While Charles was three years old when he became the heir apparent, he is now 73. Queen Elizabeth became queen when she was 25 years old, and she died at the age of 96. The fact that Charles will have a much shorter reign concerns some people. Why? Change on a grand scale can be scary, while consistency gives people a sense of what to expect. A body language expert analyzes iconic photos of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

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They thought Charles seemed like a snob

King Charles doesn’t possess the charm and warmth that Princess Diana had in spades. He comes off as aloof, and the New Yorker even described him as “a snob.” Although it may be unfair to compare Charles to those who haven’t been raised to view protocol and proper behavior as such a priority, he hasn’t always seemed eager to relate to ordinary British citizens. Prince William, on the other hand, has reached out to people much as his mother did, and he has a compassionate way about him. That is what many people want to see in a king.

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Charles showed a disregard for animal welfare

Although King Charles has taken a stand on important environmental issues such as sustainability and climate change, he has fallen pitifully short on animal-welfare issues. Whereas Prince Harry chose not to participate in a grouse hunt in 2018, Prince Charles has gone so far as to call fox hunting “romantic.” Animal rights is a growing topic of concern for British citizens, so he is not going to win supporters by holding fast to those ideas—and being vocal about them.

prince charlesPhilip Toscano/WPA Pool/Getty Images

His good works didn’t always make headlines

Blame the British press or Charles’s self-created scandals over the years, but the more salacious and negative details of his life often get top billing. As mentioned, however, Charles has actually done a lot of good for the United Kingdom and has tried to make a difference. He has been outspoken for much of his adult life about the need to protect the environment, and he’s devoted a good deal of time to the many charities he started. These good deeds have been largely ignored or glossed over, however. In case you were wondering, here’s why British tabloids are more extreme than American tabloids.

prince charles monarchyMax Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

King Charles sees the monarchy in a “different way”

When he was still a prince back in 2010, Charles told Vanity Fair that he sees the role of a constitutional monarch “in a different way” than those who have reigned before him. That may not be at all alarming in and of itself, but his vague ideas on changing what is a very traditional role may scare some people. He might have calmed his future subjects if he had been more specific about what he wanted to do differently.

princess diana and prince charlesJayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

They saw him as disloyal

Prince Charles has a history of not being loyal to important people in his life—or even to himself. He betrayed the love he had for Camilla to marry Diana. He then betrayed Diana to carry on an affair with Camilla. Plus, he went against the royal family’s wishes for him concerning the divorce he eventually chose. While it was ultimately the right decision for him, it left people with lingering bad feelings about him. Also, loyalty is important for a monarch, so these concerns are understandable on a larger level. Next, check out the royal family scandals that rocked the world.

Sources:

  • Newsweek: “British Support for King Charles Doubles: Poll”
  • NBC News: “Popular Princes Harry and William overshadow Prince Charles”
  • Express: “‘Interfering!’ Prince Charles told to step aside and let Prince William become King”
  • Independent: “Almost half of British public want Prince Charles to give throne to William upon Queen’s death, survey finds”
  • The Atlantic: “Why William and Kate Are a ‘Fairy Tale’ but Harry and Meghan Are ‘Couple Goals’”
  • Evening Standard: “Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry ‘are the most liked royals since records began'”
  • The Guardian: “Camilla at 70: a woman transformed”
  • The New Yorker: “Where Prince Charles Went Wrong”
  • The Times: “How Prince Charles lobbied Tony Blair over ban on ‘romantic’ fox hunts”
  • Vanity Fair: “Exclusive: Prince Charles on the Environment, the Monarchy, His Family, and Islam”

Robin Raven
Robin Raven is a travel, lifestyle, vegan food, and entertainment writer. She is also a consumer products expert covering product reviews and gift guides. Additionally, she has expertise in spas, luxury travel, and all things Disney. She has an MFA from California State University, Northridge. As an author, her latest books are Santa's First Vegan Christmas and The Kindness Workbook: An Interactive Guide for Creating Compassion in Yourself and the World.