The young royals get the lion’s share of the global adulation, but unless he dies before his mother, Prince Charles is going to be the king someday. Hence the long profile in this month’s Vanity Fair, which is as much about the royal press pack and other behind-the-scenes people as it as about Charles himself.
Vanity Fair sent James Reginato on Charles and Camilla’s royal tour through Greece and France back in May, and he returned with several interesting tidbits. First of all, Charles sounds like a nightmare for his bodyguards:
These walkabouts are often mapped out in advance by the Prince’s security detail, but can be unexpectedly fluid. The plan for a visit to Nice’s bustling flower market, for example, calls for “three designated points” for T.R.H. to visit, but allows for “some off-piste walking.” Meaning: Charles goes wherever he wants.
“He has complete confidence in his protection officers,” says a staff member, “so he dives right into the crowds.”
There’s also this little glimpse into the royal news sausage factory:
A week before Harry and Meghan’s wedding, everybody is champing at the bit for a sound bite from T.R.H. about the event. Word goes around that there will be a brush-by—a quick, pre-arranged moment, often when a royal is about to get in a car, when they answer seemingly spontaneous questions lobbed at them. But this brush-by keeps getting delayed, leading to frazzled nerves and vociferous complaints among the pack. “This is arse backwards, tits up!” carps one passenger on the van, whatever that means.
At last, the brush-by transpires in Nice. “Obviously . . . it’s going to be marvelous,” says His Royal Highness. “I’m sure it will be a special day for everyone.” “It’s all very exciting. Can’t wait,” Her Royal Highness adds. The press corps are always eager for a quote from Camilla.
One interesting fact is that Camilla is particularly beloved by the royal press, it seems: “She’s my favorite royal, by a country mile,” one correspondent told Reginato. “She knows all our names, she fosters a sense that we’re all in this together. She always gives you a little gleam in her eye and will find a moment to look at our cameras.” The piece goes into great detail about how the two seem genuinely loving; clearly, he should have married her in the first place, and their apparent fondness for one another—combined with an incredibly savvy roll-out—has gone a long way toward restoring their reputations after all the scandals of the 1990s.
It’s also a fact that the pair produces the best casually-walking-around-somewhere photos of anybody in the entire monarchy, Queen Elizabeth included. Whether that’s enough to make him head of the Commonwealth when she dies—especially if he’s going to make remarks like “Well, you don’t look like it!” to a young woman of color who said she was from Manchester—is an open question.
The piece touches on Prince Charles’ many pet causes and highly specific opinions, developing in his long waiting period and held with all the firmness of a man who’s been told since before he could toddle that having popped out of his mom’s body first meant that one day he would “rule” a country. Some of those opinions are rather wacky and suck up oxygen that could be better spent elsewhere—see his obsession with homeopathy. Some of those opinions are correct—see his advocacy for fighting climate change. But in case you ever doubted that Prince Charles was the type to say “I told you so,” he wrote Reginato in a series of letters: “I don’t really see any value in saying, ‘I told you so,’” while also saying, “I told you so”:
“One of [my] duties has been to find solutions to the vast challenges we face over accelerating climate change. . . . However, it seems to take forever to alert people to the scale of the challenge. Over forty years ago I remember making a speech about the problems of plastic and other waste, but at that stage nobody was really interested and I was considered old-fashioned, out of touch and ‘anti-science’ for warning of such things,” the Prince wrote. “If we don’t engage with these issues, and many other related and critical problems that they inevitably compound, we will all be the victims. Nothing escapes.”
He’s not wrong but also lord I would climb out a second-story window to escape the second hour of a one-sided conversation with the man at a dinner party.