Prince Charles Made a Joke That Revealed the Pressure He's Under

There are some people who clearly want William to be the next King of England.

prince charles, prince of wales makes a speech during the prince's trust awards trophy ceremony at st james palace on october 21, 2021 in london, england the prince's trust awards recognize young people who have succeeded against the odds, improved their chances in life and had a positive impact on their local community
(Image credit: Tim P. Whitby)

Heavy is the head that’s waited nearly 73 years to wear the crown. This week, Prince Charles gave a speech at the Prince’s Trust Awards Trophy Ceremony at St. James’s Palace, and he was playing fast and loose with the jokes, according to People. When talking about the work for disadvantaged youths that his Prince’s Trust charity has accomplished since its founding in 1976, he noted, “And before I drop dead, I want to make sure we can get even further!” At the end of his speech, he suggested the attendees all go for a “stiff drink” after.

But one joke in particular seemed to reflect an awkward kernel of truth. In telling a story about an experience in a TK Maxx (did you know that’s what they call TJ Maxx in England?), Prince Charles said, "I remember there were an enormous number of people who were trying to get in, as they were waiting for me to get out!"

He then added, “Story of my life…”

edinburgh, scotland october 02 queen elizabeth ii, camilla, duchess of cornwall and prince charles, prince of wales, known as the duke and duchess of rothesay when in scotland, arrive for the opening of the sixth session of the scottish parliament on october 02, 2021 in edinburgh, scotland the ceremony, which opened the new session of the devolved scottish government, paid tribute to “local heroes” from across scotland who have supported their communities throughout the coronavirus pandemic photo by andrew milligan poolgetty images

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's a good bit of self-deprecating humor, that line has been stirring up renewed speculation over Prince Charles’s future as the King of England, especially in the wake of William and Kate’s surging popularity. Though the Queen will likely remain in her duties for the rest of her life, at 95, the hard question of succession is coming up. And to be clear, Charles is next in line and already starting to pave a more modern approach to the royal family’s future: With fewer members, less lavish spending, and more focused approaches to charity. He may even choose to turn Buckingham Palace into a museum as part of this vision.

But a poll that asked 3,000 British folks who they preferred to be next in line, published by Express, found that Prince William was a much more popular pick for the future King than his father, with William receiving a full 10 percentage points more than Charles. The only person more popular in the family is the Queen, apparently.

london, united kingdom september 28 embargoed for publication in uk newspapers until 24 hours after create date and time catherine, duchess of cambridge, prince william, duke of cambridge, camilla, duchess of cornwall and prince charles, prince of wales attend the no time to die world premiere at the royal albert hall on september 28, 2021 in london, england photo by max mumbyindigogetty images

(Image credit: Max Mumby/Indigo)

Of course, it’s not really up to the British people which royal gets to rule next—it’s not even up to the Queen. According to People, the 1701 Act of Settlements in Parliament gives the succession to the next heir, which means William would be skipping a step. Only Parliament could vote to change this, and they likely wouldn’t rock the boat over a position that’s more symbolic than powerful. Not to mention, Charles has been training for this position his entire life, so he would probably be inclined to take it on.

Of course, he wouldn’t necessarily be under pressure to keep the position for the rest of his life, as his mother appears to be doing. According to a post from the University College London’s Constitution Unit, which conducts research about British political institutions:

Then again, according to an interview Prince Harry gave in 2017, no one really wants to be the next king. At the time, he said, "Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time."

london, england may 11 queen elizabeth ii with prince charles, prince of wales in the house of lords chamber during the state opening of parliament at the house of lords on may 11, 2021 in london, england photo by chris jackson wpa poolgetty images

(Image credit: Chris Jackson)

While we don't know about the family's true plans for the next generation of monarchs, the joke Prince Charles made this week shows that he’s at least aware of the pressure to make those intentions known.

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