People are still unhappy about King Charles meddling in Brexit politics

People are still unhappy about King Charles meddling in Brexit politics

I generally agree with the theory that the whole “evicting the Sussexes from Frogmore Cottage” was a strategic leak from Buckingham Palace. The aim was to distract from the negative headlines King Charles received domestically and internationally from his “tea date” with European Union President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday. King Charles badly misjudged two consecutive storylines on consecutive days: he thought he would be hailed as a powerful, diplomatic king and get credit for the Northern Island deal worked out by the Sunak government; then he believed he would be hailed as a justifiably punitive father showing strength in evicting his son’s family from their home. He was wrong on both counts and he looked like an a–hole all f–king week.

The New York Times, the Spectator (Peter Hunt) and the Daily Beast are all running pieces about how Charles was awful to “meddle” in Brexit/Northern Ireland politics with that EU photo-op. You can read the Daily Beast’s “poisoned chalice” piece here, and here are some highlights from the New York Times:

To many, this may seem a trivial dispute over protocol. But historians noted that the British monarch is a resonant figure to unionists in Northern Ireland, who are the main holdouts to the trade agreement. Unionists favor keeping the North part of the United Kingdom, and profess allegiance to the British monarch. By giving the king such a conspicuous role in the finalizing of the agreement, and by wrapping the deal in the Windsor name, some observers said the government was making it harder for the unionists to reject it.

“Calling it the Windsor Agreement, the government tried to imply that he supports it,” said Vernon Bogdanor, an authority on the constitutional monarchy at Kings College London. “I think the king has been put in a very embarrassing position.”

Other royal watchers were less willing to let Charles off the hook for his enthusiastic role in the day’s events. They said the king and his courtiers showed poor judgment in agreeing to meet Ms. von der Leyen because of Charles’s desire to appear statesmanlike, to be in the thick of things and to be on the right side of history.

“He could have met her today, tomorrow, or next week,” said Peter Hunt, a former royal correspondent for the BBC. “It is the responsibility of him and his people to decide whether the moment is right, and this one wasn’t. Their judgment was clouded because they were flattered by the prospect of being in the spotlight.”

Arlene Foster, a former first minister of Northern Ireland and leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, said on Twitter, “It’s crass and will go down very badly in NI. We must remember this is not the King’s decision but the Government who it appears are tone deaf.”

[From The NY Times]

Within that Times piece, there was also a Belfast professor basically shrugging off the idea that this mess would end up being a huge catastrophe for Charles because… he’s not important enough symbolically to even upset people. Basically, the professor was like “it would have been a big deal if QEII had met with the EU president, but since it’s just Charles, no one cares.” Which is a whole other issue, truly. But yes, Hunt is right – Charles met with Ursula von der Leyen because he was flattered, because he thought it would make him look important and kingly. Instead, he fumbled so badly that he tried to release the Frogmore eviction story to temporarily help his image, only that blew up in his face too.

— Peter Hunt (@_PeterHunt) February 28, 2023

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images and Buckingham Palace.

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