King Charles III
King Charles III (Photo by Dan Marsh, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

King Charles III: Leading from Behind

King Charles III, head of the United Kingdom and 14 Commonwealth nations has delivered his first Christmas speech as monarch and as such there are a few standout moments and meta-moments that warrant some additional scrutiny or are worthy for a mention.

King Charles III is a mature-minded and respectful heir to the crown

Seventy very long years have the citizens of the afore-mentioned countries not heard anybody else wishing them a merry Christmas but Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen’s existence, personality and mind you, her fundamental values have pervaded British everyday life and it is virtually impossible not to dwell on her memory out of sheer respect – and for the hope of some political gains.

Charles III seemingly has chosen the only right thing here: it seems until his coronation he is going to reference and reflect on his memories and relationship with his mother as well as the fundamental values of Elizabeth II.

This makes initial speeches personal and relatable, helping him strive for better approval and shows everybody that Charles has grown a lot since the early and less-early days.

Charles III’s Most Important Self-Imposed Task Is To Reunite The People in the UK

With his and other royal family members’ frequent excursions around the immediate country show that in the dire circumstances (cost-of-living crisis, inflation, NHS-issues) he could be just as humane and interested – compassionate if one’s for big and old-school words – as his mother was. There are a lot of underlying disturbances that such a huge crisis could evoke but with a level-headed sovereign, public sentiment could be held peaceful and rigorous.

The Commonwealth is Secondary

The king seems to be somewhat uncertain about what should be done with the Commonwealth. It was his mother’s most important intitative and it could be said that with Britain leaving the European Union the Commonwealth could be a very good foundation for a position in global trade but it seems like Charles is stepping back from advocating the organization.

It is too early to tell what will become of the situation – being a formal member of a club and being pragmatically tied to it are two completely different stories – but right now it looks very much as if the king and Britain stood puzzled about some members turning into full-fledged republics with their own heads of state, presumably leaving the Commonwealth behind.

Meanwhile Gabon and Togo have been newly admitted with Zimbabwe still waiting to join. Directing Commonwealth policies is a unique and very complex undertaking but the jovial abstinence from even mentioning it in the Christmas speech is just deafening silence.

Charles III Might Become a Manager King

Manager in a sense that there might be more very concrete and discrete tasks delegated to other members of the Royal Family. Charles often mentions his age and for the Prince of Wales as heir apparent to replace him, it might take a lot more than it usually does. Approval-wise it is also a good sign if there is some sort of ‘royal commotion’.

Charles will be a popular and esteemed king, there are very good signs already showing that. But in order to step out of his mother’s legacy – maybe even the shadow thereof – he will need to articulate or signal his stance on some issues because inaction seems to be the worst choice in a fast moving world.

Charles wished ‘each of you a Christmas of peace, happiness and everlasting light.’

2023 will tell what that exactly meant.

Tamás Árki
Tamas Arki is an expert in international studies and has worked with various Hungarian publications, both online and print, as a foreign policy journalist.

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