In this thread there have been a few less than complimentary remarks made about Prince Charles, the Queen's eldest child. I have never met him but two people I am close to have. I thought I would therefore share with the Forum their experiences with the man, which show him in two different lights and reveal that, like most of us, he is a complex individual with both good and bad aspects to his character.
The first case is that of an Australian friend of mine who is based in England and who owned a property in Poundbury, a new model town established by Prince Charles as a pet project of his. See
My friend is a retired City lawyer who worked for one of the most prestigious law firms in the world. His brother was the commander of the Australian Navy. Hence, he very much comes from an establishment family. He met with Prince Charles during a committee meeting of the overseeing body for Poundbury. There was a bottle of scotch whisky on the table in front of the prince. During the meeting, the prince kept pouring himself a drink from the bottle. After a while, it was clear that the whisky was taking its toll on him. Hence, my friend reached forward as the prince was about to take yet another drink and snatched the bottle away from him saying: "Your Highness, I think you may have had enough
". The prince was quite indignant but carried on. After the meeting had finished, the prince's equerry came up to my friend and said: "Thank you sir, you did the right thing
". Sadly, what this demonstrates is that Prince Charles, like most of us, has his own inner demons to fight. Despite his title and wealth, he is a vulnerable human being just like all of us here on the big blue marble.
The second story concerns my cousin who met with the prince at his home at Highgrove House. Highgrove House - Wikipedia
In April 2015, the prince went to Gallipoli in Turkey to participate in the commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign in the Dardanelles. Gallipoli campaign - Wikipedia
The President of France and the Prime Ministers of Britain, Australia and New Zealand all attended this event, which was presided over by President Erdogan of Turkey. Prince Charles represented the Queen. He attended the main commemoration for the British, Australians and New Zealanders at the Commonwealth War Memorial, which overlooks Cape Helles, where the initial landings took place. Please note that for the British the campaign was nothing short of a disaster (as regards the landings, think of the opening scenes in Saving Private Ryan
or the Mel Gibson fim Gallipoli
and you will get the picture) but for the Australians and New Zealanders who came to the event it was a major remembrance of where their nations came of age.
The main event was an all ticket affair and security was very tight. I went to the event with my uncle, whose father was one of those who had landed that first morning (he was a soldier in the Irish regiment, the Royal Munster Fusiliers, and his battalion was annihilated that first day) and his son, my cousin. Unfortunately, due to a mix up by the British Gallipoli Association we were not given tickets so could not attend the main commemoration but went instead the next day (the actual day of the landing) to the beach at Cape Helles in order to plant the flag of the Munsters and remember the fallen. There were a few fellow Britons there as well and we spoke to them. One was a retired RAF Wing Commander who had driven all the way from England to be there. He had promised to do it with his son but his son had died the year before from cancer. However, he still felt honour bound to keep his promise to his son and hence drove all the way on his own. His great uncle had been in the Royal Artilley and had landed at the beach.
My cousin subsequently met with Prince Charles at Highgrove and raised the matter with him. When he learned that my uncle was not able to attend the main commemoration he got quite angry. He said that he had met lots of grandchildren of the Gallipoli combatants but none of their children. He said he would have loved to have met with my uncle to discuss his father's first hand accounts of the landings with him. He also wondered out loud why the Turks had not held the commemoration on the actual anniversary of the landings but on the day before instead but he was pleased to learn that we had marked the day on the beach. He then discovered that my cousin was an enthusiastic lover of all things byzantine and of Greek antiquities. This is something dear to the prince's soul, as he has spent much time in Greece and particularly likes visiting Mount Athos, the famous Greek Monastic centre, for its spirituality. He also has a great appreciation for Greek Orthodox art and religious icons. One should remember that his father, Prince Phillip, grew up in Greece and the prince's grandmother became an Orthodox nun. At this, he took my cousin on a personal guided tour of his private chapel at Highgrove, which is decorated and adorned as a Greek Orthodox chapel rather than as an Anglican one.
The point of the story is that the prince, a busy man, did not have to do this for my cousin, an ordinary commoner, but he deliberately took time out to do so because my cousin shared a common interest and appreciation of his. Hence, if he may sometimes come over as aloof and a bit stiff and aristocratic on television, underneath it all he is a real human being who, just like us, has his good points and his bad points.