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The son also rises: Should William be king?
London, Nov 20 (Agencies):
Published on 20 Nov. 2010 10:53 PM IST
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King Charles or King William? Royal wedding bells have reignited the debate over whether Prince Charles should step aside to let his more popular son William be king.
Many are pushing the idea as the nation buzzes over the announcement of William’s engagement to longtime girlfriend Kate Middleton.
They argue that Charles’ standing suffered irreparable harm when his marriage to Princess Diana fell apart and seamy details of his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles went public.
Others say he is, at 62, simply too old to start an effective reign after his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, dies. It’s more than an academic question: the queen is 84 years old, albeit in seemingly excellent health.
There’s little question who’d win a popularity contest between the aging prince, who has alienated many Britons, and the charismatic young man who reminds many of his late mother, Diana. And Camilla, whom Charles married eight years after Diana’s death, is not loved by the public, while William’s fiancée, Kate Middleton, is cresting in popularity.
So perhaps it’s surprising that polls suggest Britons prefer to leave the line of succession as it stands.
“Why change the rules now?” said Henrietta Jones, 64, a retiree. “William has to wait his turn just like everyone before him. I think Charles really does have what it takes to be king and I think he honestly deserves it.”
But she admitted certain ambivalence about Charles and his prospects as monarch: “Honestly, he is who he is and we have to deal with that.”
An October ComRes poll of 2012 adults shows support for changing the line of succession to favor William stands at about 25 percent, with just under half in favor of leaving things as they stand, with the rest saying they don’t know.
ComRes chairman Andrew Hawkins said the poll found more support for Charles than he had anticipated.
Despite having many vocal critics, he said, there is a solid base of support for Charles that includes all age groups and all parts of the country.
“Prince Charles doesn’t have a huge number of vocal supporters, but there is a sense among the public that he has earned the right to serve as king and that he deserves it,” Hawkins said. “He has his critics, but they are not in the majority.”
The support for leaving the established order in place reflects a go-slow approach to change and modernization in Britain, where reforms of traditional institutions like the House of Lords have proceeded slowly. Centuries of tradition suggest Charles should be next on the throne and his would-be subjects seem unwilling to challenge that despite his marital misadventures.
The public is less forgiving in its attitude toward Camilla. She is still seen by some as the “other woman” in the ill-fated Charles and Diana fairy tale. The ComRes poll indicates Britons would prefer Middleton become the next queen — an inherent contradiction with their vote on who should be king.
“These views reflect that it was always going to be impossible for anyone to follow in Diana’s footsteps, and Camilla has not played the same sort of public role that Princess Diana did, she’s been much more in the background,” said Hawkins, adding that older Britons are more supportive of Camilla than younger people.
He said Middleton would be “extremely popular” in the near future but will have a challenge meeting high expectations.
Constitutional experts like professor and author Vernon Bogdanor point out that even if Charles were extremely unpopular there is no easy way to alter the line of succession, which is not designed to bend to public opinion or respond to the whims of tabloid newspaper editors.

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