After news broke on 15 June that the European Court of Human Rights had scuttled Britain’s plan to start offshore processing of asylum-seekers in Rwanda, the people-smugglers, who have now shipped 50,000 illegal immigrants on boats across the Channel since 2018, were able to assure prospective clients they wouldn’t end up in Africa. So they’ve kept arriving – often hundreds a day. Meanwhile organic, locally sourced bubbly was no doubt opened across the country by anti-border Guardian readers and human rights lawyers – and also, quite possibly, by the heir to the throne of Australia.
The Times has reported that Prince Charles has been heard several times expressing opposition to the policy, describing it as ‘appalling’. Presumably he takes the same view of the offshore processing policy of Her Majesty’s Australian government.
Lying by public figures has been a major focus in Britain of late. Attention has mostly been on Boris Johnson’s untrue claims that Covid-related rules on social gatherings in Number 10 ‘were followed at all times’. But a Prince of Wales spokesman produced an even more implausible porky after the Times report, alleging that HRH ‘remains politically neutral’.
Prince Charles has long been an eco-activist, but his politically partisan interventions have become more extreme in recent years. At the 2020 Davos World Economic Forum, he advocated carbon taxes – an astonishing position for the heir to the throne, not least because of the contentious history of such taxes in several of the Queen’s realms, including Australia.
At the same Davos jamboree, the Prince managed a meeting with Greta Thunberg, but not with President Trump, whom he also snubbed during his 2018 visit to London. Charles called Thunberg, who believes we should be carbon neutral by 2025, i.e., that we should wreck our economies, ‘remarkable’ and has said he ‘understands’ why she and her eco-allies are ‘fed up’ with world leaders – including the Green zealot British prime minister – who ‘just talk’ about climate change. The Prince has also revealed that he is now partly vegan, abstaining from meat, fish and dairy products on several days a week. He knows this will influence public opinion. But it hasn’t traditionally been one of the monarchy’s roles to damage and demoralise the meat, fishing and dairy industries in the Queen’s realms by implying that their products are evil.
At every opportunity, Prince Charles takes the role of climate evangelist. A recent visit to Canada saw him touting net zero as if there’s a global consensus it’s an agreed good, when it’s highly controversial among millions of the Queen’s subjects. Even in politically correct Britain, many fear green taxes on everything from energy bills to flights and government efforts to replace petrol cars and gas boilers will make them poorer and colder. Additionally, in the lead-up to the Glasgow Cop26 summit, the Prince had a go at the Morrison government before it capitulated to pressure also to announce the net zero goal. Appearing to accept a BBC journalist’s line that Australia doesn’t take climate change seriously, he said, with patrician condescension, that he’d suggest to our government that ‘there may be other ways of doing things’. So much for being ‘politically neutral’. Most disturbingly of all, Prince Charles said two years ago ‘we have a golden opportunity to seize something good’ from the Covid crisis. Launching the ‘Great Reset’ project, he urged businesses to rebuild in ‘a sustainable and green way’, adding ‘we must use all the levers we have at our disposal, knowing that each and every one of us has a vital role to play’. Does that mean again using draconian laws backed by fierce policing, this time to enforce the achievement of environmental objectives? Who knows.
There’s not much comfort for those who react with: oh well, he’s 73, and we can soon skip to the next generation. His father died at the age of 99, his mother is 96 and his maternal grandmother died at 101. In any case, Charles’s heir, William, is as much a partisan climate activist as his father, a disciple of David Attenborough, now evangelical vegetarian and advocate of ‘rewilding’ farmland. Prince Harry, an even more blatant political embarrassment, is no longer a working royal but is still sixth in line to the throne. In 2020 it emerged he’d said Donald Trump had ‘blood on his hands’ and is one of the ‘sick people’ running the world. He and his wife openly advocated his defeat in that year’s presidential election.
How times have changed. In 2010, Buckingham Palace mandarins blocked the Duke of Edinburgh’s attempt to invite Australian climate sceptic Ian Plimer to give the Prince Philip Lecture at the Royal Society on the topic of climate change – because the Palace needed to be seen as politically neutral.
Defenders of Prince Charles nevertheless point out that the Queen’s political views have, over the years, leaked out on various issues: allegedly, she disapproved of Margaret Thatcher’s opposition to sanctions against apartheid-era South Africa, expressed EU-sceptic views in the lead-up to the Brexit referendum and – unsurprisingly – was happy with the failure of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. The difference is that Charles and his sons are openly in woke politics up to their eyeballs.
Optimists for the future of the monarchy argue that Charles as king would change and model himself on his mother’s broad political neutrality. Some who know him are sceptical. And in the meantime he risks undermining support for the institution.
As for Australia, the constitutional monarchy has served us well and its abandonment would lead to a broader leftist assault on our country’s history and legitimacy, probably including a renewed effort to change the flag and Jacinda Ahern-like moves to change colonial-era place names.
A republic would be seen as a rejection of Britain and would damage our special relationship. But the leftist antics of Britain’s royals make life more difficult for the defenders of the status quo. Labor can be expected to make a renewed republican push when the Queen dies. Still, given continued disputes over the model for a republic and the difficulty of changing the consititution, the Windsors are likely to remain safe in Australia, even after that unhappy watershed.
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