PRINCE CHARLES Born to reign-but groomed to fail?

His training is Victorian—but he’ll reign in the space age. He could be our last monarch—or the Commonwealth’s new hope. His college years may decide

ALAN EDMONDS March 1 1967

PRINCE CHARLES Born to reign-but groomed to fail?

His training is Victorian—but he’ll reign in the space age. He could be our last monarch—or the Commonwealth’s new hope. His college years may decide

ALAN EDMONDS March 1 1967

PRINCE CHARLES Born to reign-but groomed to fail?

His training is Victorian—but he’ll reign in the space age. He could be our last monarch—or the Commonwealth’s new hope. His college years may decide


THE TRAGEDY OF the boy born to be King of the United Kingdom. Canada and His Other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth and Defender of the Faith, is that he's not the son his father would have liked him to be. And so H.R.H. Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales and heir to the throne, has thus far been groomed for the crown in a manner that many consider absurdly unsuitable for the age in which he must reign — a manner demonstrably not the kind of grooming a boy of his temperament is likely to enjoy.

Philip, the father, is an extrovert, a man of action, a man’s man, often arrogant, prideful and demanding. In many ways his is the kind of new blood the British royal House of Windsor needed. His eldest son Charles is — as far as one can determine on available evidence — an introvert, a dreamer, a boy of tenderness and self-effacing humility who will probably grow to be like his shy but dedicated grandfather, George VI. Prince Philip, for instance, once deliberately

doused press photographers with a garden hose, then guffawed with laughter. But when, during a school fire-fighting demonstration, Prince Charles accidentally splashed the feet — the feet only, mind you — of a photographer, he flushed and apologized: “Oops — I am sorry.”

Through chinks in the armor of protocol that surrounds royalty, Prince Charles emerges as a boy growing to manhood — he’s 18 now — suffering from conflicts set up by an upbringing constantly at war with his inclinations. It would seem that Philip is harder on his son than are most fathers: that Charles may face the danger of even becoming slightly neurotic by constantly trying to meet a set of standards arbitrarily set by a parent to whom the child is an extension of self, of ego. All this would be serious enough at any time, in any boy. But in this age of rampant innovation and change, the fact that Charles is not

his father’s son (in the sense that they are totally unlike each other) could change the structure of Britain, of Canada, of the rest of the Commonwealth.

Britain is now convulsed with a social revolution the main aim of which seems to be to free the country from the deadening effects of tradition maintained for its own sake. In this climate the very need for any sort of monarchy is being openly questioned, often on the alarmingly fallacious grounds that the system is traditional and, therefore, valueless. Even so, it needs no clairvoyance to predict that, if the world survives long enough, the monarchy will last out Queen Elizabeth’s lifetime, and that thereafter the survival of the monarchy will depend on King Charles III. If, by the standards of his contemporaries, he is a good and useful monarch, then the system will likely survive because he will have shown that it works. And if it works, its antiquity will be irrelevant.

But a monarch can only be useful, dynamic, if he is in tune with his age and with the needs i of the states that comprise his realm, j Despite the fact that a constitutional j monarch is without power as such,

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“In the name of heaven, what are they doing to the boy?”

1 his influence is immeasurable, incalI culable. To be a beneficial influence on the Britain he will inherit, Charles must display a knowledgeable interest in, and acute concern for, those areas of endeavor that will be important to the progress of the country. For instance, a stuffy, reactionary monarch in the Britain of Charles III would not only be unpopular, he would be a national disaster. Charles will reign in an age of technology so complex it is, even now, little understood and often feared by those whose lives it changes daily. Yet thus far Charles’s education has apparently been willfully unscientific, so that one Labor MP claims it has been more suitable for training an embryo lumberjack than a future king.

//The focal point of the criticism is in V the choice of austere Gordonstoun school in the Scottish Highlands as the place where Charles has gained most of his education so far. Prince Philip is the school’s most famous old j boy, but the school itself has an al; most Prussian atmosphere which is. j apparently, designed to produce an j elite in whom the qualities of leader. ship, character and self-reliance have I been developed and refined. And yet I Gordonstoun’s academic record is I poor, and in general examinations its ; standard is well below Britain’s naj tional average.

I “In the name of heaven, what are they doing to the boy?” wailed British ;/Labor MP Woodrow Wyatt when /Charles was first sent to Gordonstoun. j/ “If everyone went to Gordonstoun, we would soon cease to keep up with other nations. Climbing trees and cliffs, horrible physical contortions, jumping into cold water and walking aimlessly for miles apparently comes under the heading of ‘self-reliance.’ 1 call it lunacy.”

Perhaps it is. The Queen is known to have been apprehensive about the effect of spartan Gordonstoun on her shy, nervous heir. Charles himself burst into tears at the prospect. But Prince Philip told friends, “It'll make a man of him.” But will it — has it — j made Charles the kind of man Britain \ and the Commonwealth need?

There are many in Britain and the Commonwealth who echo Wyatt’s sentiments when he says, “If we were a peasant society there might be some point in this back-to-nature stuff. But we are not. We are a technological, highly civilized and even partly cultured society.” Charles, he says, should be provided with a commonsense education more suited to the world he will inherit.

Paul Nash, a onetime assistant professor of education at McGill University, has suggested that a co-educational school would suit Charles better. “A cold shower and a 400-yard run every morning.” he observed, “is a poor substitute for a sensitive, imaginative insight into the needs and strivings of all sorts and conditions of men and women.”

The amount of advice gratuitously directed at the royal family on how they should raise the future king has been a measure of the more frankly critical approach taken toward the monarchy ever since Malcolm Muggeridge first vented his then-radical views on the subject back in the mid1950s. A Labor MP has said that

Charles should go to a state school, and thus help end forever the stultifying class system based on education that still bedevils England. A trade union leader wants Charles to be given at least some scientific and technical education as an example to the rest of the nation.

The Conservative Daily Mail agrees,

and in an editorial has said: “If he [Charles] could go to the Institute of Technology in Massachusetts, or learn the French way of life at the Sorbonne, or go to a mixed college at one of the new universities, he might forget how to put a tourniquet on a snake bite or light a fire in the rain without a match. But he would meet modern problems and contemporary people and acquire the self-confidence which so many princes have so tragically lacked.” Other suggestions for Charles’s education include a proposal he be sent to a Canadian university: a move that might make him more truly the King of Canada.

All of which more precisely defines what the realm needs, not what Charles the human being either wants or needs. At Gordonstoun, Charles appears to have been something of a misfit among his more aggressive

schoolfellows. He doesn’t seem to have mixed well either during his year at Geelong Grammar School in Australia. When his year there ended, T. R. Garnett, the headmaster, said with immense tact, “He has had long periods where he has been left alone, and he has appreciated them because I think he realizes there are not many such periods ahead of him.”

Charles has amply demonstrated that he is unlike his father. He loves Shakespeare, and played Macbeth

when Gordonstoun staged the play. He emerges from the chinks in royal protocol as a pensive boy, neither a leader nor a follower of others. And yet he hero-worships his active, aggressive, gregarious father. It was to win Prince Philip's approval that Charles worked hard to become a good polo player, though at one polo meeting in Windsor Great Park he was overheard saying to Anne. ”1 hope it rains today — we won’t be able to play polo.”

On other occasions Charles has behaved aggressively to either ape, or impress, his father, and has subsequently regretted the impulse. In Athens for the wedding of King Constantine. he tried to show off by overturning a boatload of prying French photographers. The publicity that earned also earned Charles a rebuke from his mother. That famous cherry-brandy incident in 1963 was almost certainly an attempt to show off in front of Harry McKenzie, a close friend of Prince Philip’s. At a pub Charles ordered and drank a cherry brandy. It was a well-publicized incident, and forced Charles’s beloved bodyguard, Donald Green, to resign. When he did so, Charles gave him a crude bowl, his first attempt at pottery, and said, “I’m sorry. I hope we'll stay friends.” It seems that his education to date has done little to alter his basically amiable, warm personality.

“Redbrick” was too radical

When, in 1965, Charles was 17 the many critics of that education began arguing publicly about the kind of university they believed he should attend. A strong case was made by those who thought he should attend one of the new colleges recently built in England. This, they said, would help provide impetus to the university building program and status to the new institutions, which are still somewhat scathingly called “redbrick” universities. Egalitarians agreed, arguing that the new universities were untainted by any apparent connection with the Establishment, and that if Charles were to attend one it would help change the social structure under attack in Britain today. Both factions were encouraged by reports that Charles himself favored the University of Sussex, which is barely 15 years old and said to be one of the most exciting, and liberal, institutions of advanced education in Britain.

But. while Charles will be the first monarch to have been educated publicly, as opposed to privately, by tutors, Sussex University and others like it proved too radical a suggestion for the royal family: in December, soon after his eighteenth birthday. Buckingham Palace announced that Charles had been accepted by Trinity College, Cambridge, one of Britain’s most respected and venerable university colleges. While he will still be surrounded by the panoply of tradition, Charles will at Cambridge meet many kinds and conditions of people: even Cambridge and Oxford — traditionally the nurseries of the Establishment — have long since opened their doors to students of merit, as well as those of wealth and influence.

Charles will, almost inevitably, graduate as a member of the new young Establishment produced by today’s Oxbridge environment. But that young Establishment is in many cases leading the present social revolution in Britain. So Charles may yet blossom as a rounded, self-assured human being: a man equipped for his age — for his prescribed role of King of the United Kingdom, Canada and His Other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth and Defender of the Faith. ★