When did you last see a picture of Prince Charles, as he was, on a billionaire’s yacht for a summer holiday? Or out in one of London’s most fashionable restaurants with a group of celebrity friends? I can’t recall a time.
When did you last see a picture of him warmly engaging with ordinary people in a typical British town? Or attending an official function with men and women of the Armed Forces? I can think of hundreds.
King Charles’ life is entirely devoted to the country. He’s the country’s over-worked parish priest; he seems to exist to keep the country ticking over. Over the weekend, a few media outlets have detailed a typical daily timetable for the King; together, they made for extraordinary reading.
And all this is on top of the organisations and initiatives he has created and influenced: most obviously, the Prince’s Trust.
None of this has been lost on the public, who have come to respect him deeply – and to accept and appreciate the Queen Consort too, who has accompanied him in recent years. After the death of the Princess of Wales, he didn’t hide away, he just kept going; every day, he turned up at event after event – relentlessly upbeat, positive, cheerful.
He isn’t conventionally charismatic; he often seems a little awkward socially. No matter; the great thing about King Charles is this: he just seems to like completely ordinary people. While he meets extraordinary and usual people all the time, he also meets many dozens of people who turn up to events because they’re patriotic and love the Royal Family. He treats them all with interest and respect.
This sounds like a small thing, but it’s fundamental to understanding his growing popularity. For most of the British public, they have come to imagine that, if they met him, it’d probably be a pleasant experience – and that he wouldn’t look down on them.
Let’s be honest; the King has had a slightly difficult relationship at times with the conservative movement. He was once regularly criticised for being too politically correct; in more recent years, he has been criticised for engaging in political issues that are apparently not his concern.
Over time, the criticism has rightly softened, primarily because the daily grind of his service has become so manifestly obvious that people have reassessed his motives. If his interventions were once criticised as self-indulgent, now they look like genuine interest and a desire to help.
Who knows what’ll happen between now and the next election. Regardless, it’s a near-certainty that the King will say and do things which are uncomfortable for the Government and the wider conservative movement. As he does so, we would all do well to keep his motives in mind.
We’re lucky to have a head of state who puts his own entertainment and comfort a very long way behind his service to the country.