King Charles III, who celebrates his 75th birthday Tuesday, has faced the daunting task of following in the footsteps of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, a beloved, globally-admired world figure for 70 years.
Notwithstanding initial concerns and criticisms from various quarters, during his first year on the throne, Charles has demonstrated the ability to inspire his people, steadied the ship against a turbulent geopolitical situation, and served as an able ambassador for his nation abroad.
Official polling shows that, so far under his tenure, the monarchy remains popular, notwithstanding even Harry and Meghan Markle’s best efforts.
I was pleased to travel to the U.K. during the king’s coronation to provide commentary for American news outlets. Observing the proceedings with the thousands who descended upon London, I was struck by the power of Britain’s monarchical institution to inspire, unify and impress upon its citizens the shared values and historical events shaping their past and present.
Over the course of the first year, with dedication and purpose, Charles has struck a necessary balance for preserving centuries-old traditions while adapting to the modern world. The king’s success in achieving these outcomes is evident from consulting recent polling data from YouGov.
The data paint a generally positive situation for the monarchy. Though less embraced by the youngest generations, 60% of Britons, believe that King Charles is doing a good job, reflecting the public’s confidence in his leadership. Furthermore, 62% of respondents expressed a desire for the United Kingdom to continue having a monarchy, and 58% viewed the monarchy as a positive force for the country.
These numbers, which would make our elected officials green with envy, suggest that even a year after the passing of the beloved Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles is doing his part to guarantee the monarchy remains a key pillar of British life.
Dispelling any notions that Charles would be a mere placeholder king, he seems to ably infuse his own style and interests into his new role. Determined to make his mark he is committed to being more visible and accessible than his predecessors. So too, Charles has set himself apart through a long-standing and sincere commitment to causes important to him, such as environmental conservation, architecture and social issues.
Unlike Elizabeth II, who came to the throne at 26, Charles has not benefited from the glamor and youth associated with his mother’s early years. Nevertheless, age seems not to slow him down. In partnership with Queen Camilla, at 75, he serves his people with acuity and vigor; a stark contrast with our current American head of state.
Since assuming the throne, Charles seems to have come into his own, blossoming as a statesman. Having conducted diplomatic tours to France and Germany, the king and queen deployed the charms of skilled non-political heads of state in smoothing over diplomatic grudges with important trading partners while celebrating shared interests and values.
Last month the king and his family took a decisive stand to uphold the humane and noble values fundamental to our civilization.
As I wrote on these pages, in sharp contrast to deluded voices in academia and the mainstream media, the king emerged as a voice of moral clarity in the aftermath of the savage Hamas attacks on Israel. While protesters filled London and New York streets calling for annihilation of Israel and death to the Jews, the British Royal Family were quick to condemn the atrocities and meet with Jewish leaders to reassure Britain’s Jews that their safety and well-being is a chief priority for the nation.
All has not been smooth sailing during Charles’ first year on the throne. The king and his family have had to confront threats from some member nations to withdraw from the Commonwealth and demands for apologies and even, by some, for reparations for the wrongs of the past.
Moreover, the public rift caused by the appalling conduct of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, which played out embarrassingly on the global stage, would be daunting for any father, let alone one constantly in the global media’s glare. However, the king handled the situation with dignity and restraint, seeking reconciliation rather than confrontation.
Faithful to the “keep calm and carry on” posture for which the British are admired, Charles’ approach to this family scandal has actually earned him public respect.
Britain today is a vastly different nation than the one to which Queen Elizabeth II acceded in 1952. Like America, it is presently far more diverse, less civil, less respectful, and further distanced from its core values.
On his 75th birthday, we wish the king continued success as a key custodian of the noble history, identity and values – urgently under threat from woke ideologies and foreign adversaries – foundational to our civilization and way of life.