Home / Prince Charles talks about his future role in new BBC documentary

Prince Charles talks about his future role in new BBC documentary

The Prince of Wales was chosen in April by the 53-member nations of the Commonwealth to become its future head. Although the position is not hereditary, his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who has led the Commonwealth since 1952, said it was her “sincere wish” that he would head the Commonwealth “one day.”

Charles has spent his life dedicated to the work of charitable causes. Besides being president of The Prince’s Trust and the Royal Shakespeare Company, he is also president or patron of more than 400 charitable organizations, and is particularly focused on conservation, the environment and young people.

But his passion for change has also invited controversy. Charles has reportedly written to ministers — and even the prime minister — on subjects close to his heart, stoking concern for those who believe the royals should not get involved in such debates and worry that, once king, he may not remain above politics in the way that Queen Elizabeth has.

In the BBC film “Prince, Son and Heir: Charles at 70,” Charles, for the first time, publicly spoke about the shift to be expected once he ascends the throne — and the pride he takes in the charitable work he has been able to accomplish.

“You know I’ve tried to make sure whatever I’ve done has been nonparty political, but I think it’s vital to remember there’s only room for one sovereign at a time, not two. So, you can’t be the same as the sovereign if you’re the Prince of Wales or the heir,” said Charles, who turns 70 on November 14.

“But the idea somehow that I’m going to go on exactly the same way if I have to succeed is complete nonsense because the two … the two situations are completely different. You only have to look at Shakespeare plays, ‘Henry V’ or ‘Henry IV, Part 1 and 2,’ to see the change that can take place — because if you become the sovereign, then you play the role in the way that it is expected,” he said.

“So, clearly … I won’t be able to do the same things I’ve done you know as heir, so of course you operate within the … the constitutional parameters. But it’s a different function.”

A royal source told CNN that the prince would like to put on the record once and for all that he doesn’t plan to be a meddling monarch, adding that he sees the role as distinct from the one he is in now.

Addressing his intense campaigning on climate change and other issues that have “ruffled feathers,” the Prince of Wales said he was lucky to have supportive government figures who encouraged him to wage battles of the conscience, such as the former Prime Minister Jim Callaghan and Sir Alec Douglas-Home when he was foreign secretary.

Prince Charles condemns modern slave trade

Charles added that he believes the public would have expected him to make a positive contribution to civic society given his position.

“So, as you imagine, I was much encouraged to take an interest. I think people by now would have been rather fed up if I hadn’t, I would have thought,” he said.

“Prince, Son And Heir: Charles At 70” will air on the UK’s BBC One at 9 p.m. local time Thursday.

CNN’s Max Foster contributed to this report.

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