I am beginning to wonder if there are, in fact, two incarnations of King Charles that co-exist simultaneously. The first is a remarkably generous-spirited and forgiving man, who responds to insults and slights with Christ-like forbearance and shows nothing but a genuine love for his country and his people. And the second is a more flawed and capricious human being, who displays his temper both publicly and in acts of revenge against members of his family who have displeased him.
If Charles really has managed to neutralise the two most troublesome and publicity-hungry members of the Firm, it’s a remarkable achievement
These personae may appear to be contradictory, but when it comes to the coronation, it is the first side of him that has been on display. Now that it has (finally, belatedly) been confirmed that Prince Harry will indeed be attending the ceremony in three weeks’ time, the potential for embarrassment and difficulty has been considerably reduced, if not removed entirely; this is, after all, a Prince who recently wrote an excoriating memoir that was less than flattering about both his father and his stepmother. And so it has been revealed that Charles is in what has been described as ‘a forgiving mood’ towards the members of his family who he considers to have transgressed.
According to the typically well-briefed Camilla Tominey in the Daily Telegraph, a ‘friend’ of the Royal Family has revealed that ‘there’s a warmth around the place and a proper rallying around the King, who in turn is showing some serious EQ (emotional intelligence) by ensuring the family is given the opportunity to pull together’. In practice, this means that the Duke of York, who a matter of months ago had been sent into reputational Siberia and had been cast out of Buckingham Palace, has spent both Christmas and Easter with the King, and in exchange for both public and private loyalty (no anonymous newspaper briefings here), has been welcomed back into the fold. If Charles really has managed to neutralise the two most troublesome and publicity-hungry members of the Firm, it’s a remarkable achievement.
So are rumours of Royal dissent simply exaggerated? According to the ‘friend’ quoted in the Daily Telegraph, yes. ‘The family aren’t briefing against one another. If it’s palace officials going off-piste and providing hostile press briefings on who wears what and when, who lives here or there, then they should think on. If it damages an individual royal, it damages the institution and it doesn’t reflect the private unity of the family.’ In other words, blame the courtiers, who are disposable and dispensable, not the royals, who are blameless and just want to be liked.
It’s not too hard to see why this is the dominant view at the moment. If the coronation is to be both an international and personal success for the King, it is vital that the Royal Family present a united front; I have visions of an awkward embrace being stage-managed between William and Harry for public consumption. Yet as the institution’s woes and battles over the past few years have proved, there is often a gap between noble intention and the rather more eventful execution of their aims. Let us hope, for everyone’s sake, that the incarnation of the monarch that processes into Westminster Abbey on 6 May is the forgiving, Christian kind – and not the more vindictive, petty King, who may yet find that his powers of patience and tolerance can still be exhausted by his troublesome family.