Although the reign of Carlos III began the day his mother Elizabeth II died, it was only today after her burial that a new stage began for the monarch and for the United Kingdom. And hundreds of observers are expectantly aware of this reality, especially the royal advisers and the political class. This is because, unlike the queen, the current king has a reputation for opposing the government and expressing his point of view when he believes it is necessary. For example, last June he noted – privately – that Downing Street’s policy on Rwanda (whereby asylum seekers would be deported by plane) was “atrocious”. Then, the palace had to clarify that it would not comment on “alleged anonymous private conversations” and reaffirmed that Prince Charles “remains politically neutral” and that “policy matters are government decisions.”
the hand of the black spider
King Carlos III manifested his ecological ideals very early. Already in the 70s he spoke of protecting the planet and demanded to maintain biodiversity in the country. In this sense he has exerted pressure to reduce carbon emissions and his interest in organic agriculture is also known. He campaigned against genetically modified crops. And on one occasion he called GM foods “the greatest environmental disaster of all time.”
In January 2021, he launched the earth chartera sustainable finance charter that asks signatories (usually companies) to follow a set of guidelines to become more sustainable.
But the biggest intervention was exposed when The Guardian uncovered 27 letters, called the Black Spider (after the king’s scrawled handwriting), in which the prince corresponded (between 2004 and 2005) with former prime minister Tony Blair and ministers of trade, innovation, health, environment, schools and families, children, food and rural affairs, culture, media and sport and even with the Northern Ireland office.
The newspaper was involved in a litigation with the Government that lasted 10 years to be able to publish the manuscripts and was finally able to do so in 2015. In them, the Prince of Wales demanded, for example, urgent action to improve the equipment of the troops fighting in Iraq , asked for the availability of alternative herbal medicines, which are his favourites. “In October 2004 he told Environment Minister Elliot Morley that he hoped “illegal fishing for Patagonian toothfish would be high on his list of priorities because until that trade is stopped, there is little hope for the poor and old albatross. Another memo ordered the slaughter of badgers to prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis, condemning its opponents as “intellectually dishonest”; he pushed for a person he trusted to be appointed to take action against the mistreatment of farmers by supermarkets; he proposed his own assistant to him to report to Downing Street on the design of new hospitals; and urged Prime Minister Tony Blair to address a European Union directive limiting the use of alternative herbal medicines in the UK. And he directly lobbied Blair to replace the Lynx military helicopters,” The Guardian reported.
The letters revealed not only that the ministers often actively responded to his suggestions, but that they seemed to hold his interventions in high regard. Blair responded in a letter: “I always value and look forward to his views, but perhaps particularly on agricultural issues.”
Charles Clarke, then education secretary, responded to Charles III’s complaint about the nutritional content of school meals, signing: “I have the honor to be, sir, the most humble and obedient servant of Your Royal Highness.”
In addition to the memos, since the beginning of 2010, the prince has held 87 meetings with ministers, opposition party leaders and senior government officials, new figures released by the Republic campaign group showed. This year he has held meetings with, among others, David Cameron, leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, the Secretary for Education, Nicky Morgan and Alistair Carmichael, then Secretary for Scotland. In 2013 his friend and his biographer Jonathan Dimbleby said, “A quiet constitutional revolution is brewing.”
But not only the inhabitants of the United Kingdom are expectant for the future performance of the king, the 53 nations that are part of the Commonwealth of Nations, of which 13 still have the British monarch as head of state, are observant. Well, last June, King Carlos III told Commonwealth leaders that keeping the queen as head of state or choosing republicanism is “a question for each country to decide.” Today his comments are interpreted as an acknowledgment that some countries could become independent, as Barbados did last year.