Charles, he said, has struggled to forge an identity as the Prince of Wales, a role he has held longer than anyone but which comes without a job description. He founded great charities such as the Prince’s Trust, which has helped almost a million disadvantaged young people, and championed causes such as sustainable urban planning and environmental protection long before they were fashionable.
In recent years, he has taken on several of the Queen’s duties, from overseas trips to investitures where people are knighted. On Remembrance Day he laid a wreath at the memorial to fallen British soldiers on her behalf. At the official opening of Parliament, he accompanied her to the Palace of Westminster.
Charles also did not hesitate to wade into heavy political matters. He has regularly spoken out in favor of religious tolerance and against Islamophobia, which some have credited with helping to dampen a potential backlash against Muslims after a series of deadly terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists in London in 2005.
“He could have spent his time in nightclubs or doing nothing, but he found a role,” Professor Bogdanor said.
Sometimes Charles’ strong opinions get him into hot water. In 1984 he derided the proposed extension of the National Gallery as “a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend”. The plan was scrapped, but years later prominent architects complained that his behind-the-scenes lobbying against projects he disapproved of was an abuse of his constitutional role.
In 2006, Charles caused outrage when British tabloid The Mail on Sunday published extracts from a diary he kept while representing the Queen at the official handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China in 1997. He described Chinese officials as “horrific wax figures” and said that after a “propaganda speech” by Chinese President Jiang Zemin, “we had to watch the Chinese soldiers step on the stage and take down the Union Jack and raise the best flag.”