Charles had a long relationship with Canada, but he had to be adopted

MONTREAL – As he stood among Canadian flags on a podium in Iqaluit in 2017, Prince Charles recalled his first official visit to Northern Canada, almost half a century ago.

“I will never forget the warm welcome of the Inuit, which made me feel at home immediately, as I did with all Canadians on my next visit,” said Charles, who drew applause from people in the capital of Nunavut with a test greeting their hosts in Inuktitut.

On this trip and its predecessors, Charles fostered a relationship with Canada that spanned decades, during 19 official visits, family trips and brief stops during his military service.

With the death of Queen Elizabeth II announced on Thursday, Charles is set to take over as Canada’s new head of state. But one expert on the British Crown believes the new King Charles will still face a daunting challenge in establishing himself in a nation skeptical of the monarchy – and in a role for many Canadians, closely related to his mother, for 70 years. years.

Charles’ relationship with Canada began with his first official visit in 1970, which included a tour of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories with other members of the Royal Family. During his most recent visits, he was accompanied by his wife Camilla, whose distant Canadian origins he mentioned.

These official visits often include photo ops and official ceremonies that the Canadian public has come to expect from the Royal Family. But beyond the excitement and pageantry, there are events that indicate a deeper connection among Canadians.

Climate change

Over the years, Charles’s visits to Canada have often been marked by events and conversations centered on climate change, an area where he has largely abandoned his princely reserve.

In November 2021, Charles urged world leaders gathered at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, to put themselves on a “war footing” to cut emissions. This speech by Charles made headlines, but he has delivered the same message for decades, including in Canada in 2009, when he described climate change as a “threat to all humanity”.

He emphasized this issue once again during the 2017 stop in Nunavut: then he pointed out that global warming “brings rapid and destructive changes to the way of life in the Arctic” which has long supported the Inuit.

More recently, he has taken a particular interest in efforts to preserve the Inuit language and culture, including inviting an Inuit group to visit Wales in 2016 to discuss standardization efforts. in the writing system. from Inuktitut.

Proclaimed heir at age three

Charles, eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, was born in 1948 at Buckingham Palace; he was proclaimed heir at the age of three, when his mother ascended the throne in 1952.

After graduating from university in 1970, he underwent military pilot training, which included a stint at the Canadian Forces base in Gagetown, New Brunswick, where he trained “in an exercise area in the middle of nowhere.” “, he would say later.

Carolyn Harris, a Toronto-based royal historian and expert, believes that despite a long and seemingly genuine connection to Canada, King Charles will have his work cut out for him to be accepted as sovereign. Her approval ratings are consistently lower than the Queen, who is widely respected even by those who disapprove of the monarchy.

Charles, meanwhile, had to recover from the blows to his image in the 1990s following the public and tumultuous breakdown of his marriage to his first wife, Diana, and her death a few years later. , as well as rumors of a recent feud with her youngest son, Harry.

And although his reputation has improved somewhat since the days of Diana, the fact remains that he spent most of his life as a “future king”.

“One of the challenges that Charles has faced throughout his life is that he has always been overshadowed by other members of his family: first by his parents, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, then by his first wife Diana, the Princess in Wales,” said Ms. Harris. Recently, his two sons, William and Harry, and their wives have attracted more attention.

“Ahead of its time”

Ms Harris recalled that unlike his famous mother, who became queen at a very young age, Charles had many opportunities to pursue his own interests, including some that were initially seen as eccentric but became which is consensual.

His early interest in issues such as organic farming and sustainability may not have earned the royal heir a reputation as someone ahead of his time. But he has also been criticized for his large carbon footprint, with his frequent private jet flights.

Although Charles is more cautious than his mother on some issues, Ms Harris believes the ongoing royal transition is likely to be more about continuity than disruption.

In recent years, Charles and other members of the royal family have gradually taken on a larger share of the Queen’s duties – a decision, according to the historian, made to ensure the a smooth transition between generations.

Some recent polls suggest that support for the royal family is low in Canada. The opposition is strongest in Quebec, where Charles and the Queen face protests, and it will be a daunting task to convince Quebeckers to change their minds, even if Charles is fluent in French.

Ms Harris thinks Charles is likely to try to consolidate his reign soon, possibly with a royal tour, but that the move in recent years to reduce the number of working royals means that Canadians rarely see him, much less in person.

In short, even if he no longer feeds many polar bears, Charles will continue the trend started during the COVID-19 pandemic and stay in contact with Canadians via videoconference, historian Harris believes.

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