Justifying a Royal Existence: What's a Modern Prince For?
Prince Charles Interviewed in The Washington Post in 1982
On August 29, 1982 the Outlook section of The Washington Post, published an interview I conducted earlier that summer with then Prince Charles. Decades later, as he is finally crowned as King Charles III, some of what he said is worth recalling. The text was approved by Charles at the time.
In answer to my first question: What can you do to cope with the serious economic problems, particularly the unemployment in Britain today?
“Often you sit there and think — what the hell can I do? The problem is enormous and its like banging your head against an immense brick wall: it never seems to have any effect. But its very interesting how if you bang your head against one bit of the wall, eventually you will dislodge a bit of the brick, or you might knock one out and at that point you are achieving something. My philosophy has been that its better to begin something in a tiny small way which has the possibility of growing into someting larger, than not to attempt it all.
Or, on the other hand to attempt something large which fizzles out rather ignominously. Which is the other severe danger: that if you try and do something in too large and loud a way, you raise everybody’s expectations and then can’t fulfill them which actually (is) more dangerous I think because it increases possible bitterness and frustration.
But I hope to now, through … various orginzations —one a started about eight or nine years ago (is) called “The Prince’s Trust.” I wanted to try and get at the areas which I felt at that stage were the most important. (They) were those of the rather alienated young, in particular some of them in inner cities of this country who felt very much neglected. (They) I suppose felt completely alienated from society and from anything to do with the establishment, as such. I think there is a growing proportion of people like that, not just the young, but those who have families and so on, who are frightened even of doctors and teachers — they represent authority and the establishment.
How then do we get through to these people and make them aware that there are people prepared to try and help. So this is how the Trust started. As a result, I’ve built a large number of contacts, people in all walks of life, those who deal with social work, probabtion and aftercare for young offenders. All these people are very keen to see ways of improving the situation. And through a trust like mine, there’s an opportunity to get things done without too much red tape.”
As published, the Post singled out two of Charles’s comments for particular attention. They were:
“You see my problem….is I don’t actually have a role to play…I am heir to the throne, full stop. That’s all…I could go and play polo all over the world, I suppose.”
“It may sound silly, but I think I did have to struggle…(It gives) me a different sort of outlook perhaps than some of my predecessors might have had. Purely because I had to struggle.”
King Charles III is 74 years old. He joins the ranks of other heads of state including President Joseph Biden and his predecessor Donald J. Trump whose longevity is impressive by historic standards. On the other hand, his mother Queen Elizabeth lived and ruled until she was 96. His father, Prince Philip died at 99. Her mother, Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother lived to 101.
What FASCINATING excerpts from a 30-something Prince Charles. The dream-a vision would be Peter Osnos revisiting Charles, reading those quotes back to him, and seeing how they fit into an updated story: What’s A Modern King For?