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King Charles's reign will not be overshadowed by Prince Harry as 'spares are irrelevant'

NewsKing Charles's reign will not be overshadowed by Prince Harry as 'spares are irrelevant'

Meghan and Harry ‘had to wait’ to be welcomed to Coronation claims Omid Scobie

King Charles’s reign will not be overshadowed by Prince Harry as spares are ‘irrelevant’, a leading constitutional expert has told the Express. Professor Bob Morris explained that with the British monarch, it is the King or Queen alone, who is crucial – the heir, not the spare. This applies today with Prince William and Harry who are heir and spare.

Back when the young Queen Elizabeth was crowned in June 1953 the UK was a very different place.

Emerging from the devastating economic impact of World War 2 which ended eight years earlier, food rationing was just being phased out.

Elizabeth’s Coronation was unique as it was the first to be televised in glorious technicolour, beamed to 27 million tiny TV screens around the world, at a time when just one percent of the UK population had TVs.

Queen Elizabeth II was a reluctant monarch, recently married and in her mid-20s; a mother of four-year-old Prince Charles – who was allowed to attend – and toddler Princess Anne.

Fast forward 70 years and six months a Coronation looms for a new era.

READ MORE: Princess Anne makes first appearance since damning comments on King Charles

King Charles's reign will not be overshadowed by Prince Harry

King Charles’s reign will not be overshadowed by Prince Harry (Image: GETTY)

Now halfway into his eighth decade, Elizabeth’s oldest child Charles is going to be a very different King to his mother who preceded him. Unlike Elizabeth, Charles has waited all his life to seize the Crown and become the oldest-ever monarch to ascend the British throne.

We know a lot about him – too much, almost, after the leaked phone calls between his then-lover Camilla came to light three decades ago and published in an excruciating transcript, while the pair were still married to their respective partners.

Professor Bob Morris, a constitutional expert and academic, told the Daily Express: “Charles, in some ways, is responding to the changing nation. He’s invited more than 350 British Empire Medal holders – they are going to be wearing morning dress.

“There had been a suggestion that it may have been useful to have a separate event for representatives of civil society. It has been part of the mindset in the planning.

“In the Coronation, Charles has decapitated the aristocracy. The reduction in numbers in 1998 hasn’t affected the monarchy but has affected the aristocracy.

“There are only going to be 50 peers with no wives this time at the Coronation.

“The 1998 Act took away any right the peers had to sit in the House of Lords. They’ve been considerably marginalised.”

King Charles

King Charles (Image: GETTY)

King Charles III will undergo a slimmed-down Coronation on Saturday, May 6. Only 2,000 people are invited, not the 8,251 who were squeezed into Westminster Abbey on specially-constructed arena platforms that still bare the scars on the historic church.

The Coronation route is a quarter of the length of his mother’s ceremony and it will be a shorter service than the Queen’s which lasted for more than three hours. Peers will not wear their heavy purple velvet ermine-trimmed robes nor coronets on their heads. The Princess of Wales is also set to shirk the age-old tradition of wearing a tiara in favour of a more relaxed daytime formal dress code, which could see her opt for a floral headpiece.

Among the guests are third-sector workers and the emphasis has shifted from the privileged to the ordinary people who make up our nation in 2023.

Security will be tight as anti-monarchists, anarchists and eco-warriors are determined to ruin it with protests in front of a huge world audience. One plot rumbled by police would have seen rape alarms tossed at police horses to spook them and cause widespread chaos. A huge and expensive policing and security operation is underway to thwart the troublemakers.

The Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II last year

The Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II last year (Image: GETTY)

This came before the arrest of a man on Tuesday night outside the Palace in which he is said to have shouted: “I’m going to kill the King.” The suspect was detained by Metropolitan Police on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon after a knife was found. A precautionary controlled explosion was carried out.

In terms of young people and their general reaction to the Coronation, it’s “difficult to read”.

Prof Morris added: “It’s been a case for a long time that 18 to 34-year-olds are the least likely to support the monarchy. John Curtice has produced figures showing the cohort effect and the change of opinions in people when they get older and understand what monarchy does more.

“When you are young, you are not involved in public affairs and are scrambling to get a job.

“We are a democracy, we have been a republic who happens to have a head of state.

“Charles’s’ ratings – they’ve been carefully managed by PR people. Harry and Meghan are on a different trajectory.

“The fact is that the spares don’t matter. Only the heir matters. Spares matter only if something happens to the heir. Harry is sixth in the line of succession and at one point he was third.

“This is one of the reasons why we try to argue that more attention should be given to the position of these people who observe all rules without the throne.”

Queen Elizabeth II after her coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey

Queen Elizabeth II after her coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey (Image: GETTY)

No doubt the Coronation is an important historic occasion for the nation and globally but the age of reverence and unwavering support for the monarchy which was still evident in 1953 is less visible in 2023.

But there are similarities to the two events, separated as they are by seven decades.

Back in 1953, huge crowds gathered to celebrate the Coronation. Living standards have increased since then but the post-war economic boom began to stagnate around 2009 as living standards have fallen with the cost of living crisis.

Now, in 2023, everything has changed and nothing has changed. The nation teeters on the precipice of recession after years of austerity and a debilitating pandemic that accelerated the decline of the High Street.

From a constitutional point of view, the multiple challenges of the dysfunctional Royal Family has threatened its very existence.

It survives and it will evolve with King Charles III at the helm – but at what cost?

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh (Image: GETTY)

Since the death of the hard-working and conservative monarch Elizabeth II, minor royals have had to prove their worth in the court of the new King.

Prince Edward and his wife Sophie rose to the challenge and were rewarded with the titles Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh. Prince Andrew had been sidelined as a senior royal since his disastrous Newsnight interview but is keen to get back into the Firm. But the King is attempting to stand firm, banning him from the balcony despite allowing him to take centre stage on Easter Sunday.

If anything, the Coronation has been overshadowed by the constant soap opera involving Charles’s youngest son, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle and their ongoing feud with Prince William.

The broadsides kept coming from Harry and Meghan as speculation mounted about their attendance after the publication of Spare, the promotional interviews and their Netflix docuseries.

Thankfully, Harry finally announced he was coming while Meghan will stay home with their young children Archie, who is four on Coronation Day, and Lilibet, who turns two a month later.

Street party to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in Edinburgh on June 3, 2012

Street party to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in Edinburgh on June 3, 2012 (Image: GETTY)

King Charles, a notoriously sensitive and short-tempered man must have seen his good humour tested throughout this debacle as his sons engaged in a historical drama worse than anything Shakespeare had written. His irritability has already been seen when he lost his cool over a leaky fountain pen soon after his mother’s death watched by the world.

The campaigning organisation Republic claims only nine percent of people in the UK care about the Coronation. But is this a true reflection?

The street parties and picnics organised in King Charles’s name would perhaps suggest otherwise. Even if they are just an excuse for people to get together for a knees-up and not a reflection of an overly enthusiastic and patriotic nation.

The difference between 2023 and 1953, Prof Morris concludes is “we knew nothing about Elizabeth and we know everything about Charles”.

Prof Morris added: “She was 26 and she had two small children. She could be accepted as something fresh and new.

“We know about Charles. There’s nothing like old people to put young people off. William is now 40 and how old will be when his father falls off the throne?

“Charles is 74 years old and has been thinking about this all his life so there’s much more deference to his wishes in the Coronation planning.”

Constitutional expert Lord Peter Hennessy, said monarchy is no longer about the clash of steel. “It’s a welfare monarchy,” he said. “It’s about the clink of scissors cutting the ribbon at the opening of some new National Health facility. About perking people who need perking up. And the whole family is good at that.”

He remains confident that Charles, who is history’s longest apprenticeship for the crown, is so steeped in its niceties that he will not fail.

While his estranged ex-wife, Diana, may have argued that he was not fit to rule, he is taking the crown when most people are long into retirement.

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