Prince Charles heads to Canada this week to represent Head of State Queen Elizabeth II, with more attention than ever before his future role due to his mother’s age and declining health.
Increasingly, each move of the heir to the throne is attracting more scrutiny, as the record-breaking 96-year-old monarch’s reign nears its end.
Last week, Charles, 73, acted as a last-minute stand-up for the Queen at the official opening of the UK Parliament, in the clearest indication that his long wait to become king is coming to an end.
His appearance and the Queen’s absence from the ceremony for the first time in nearly 60 years led to a marked shift in public opinion towards her position.
A YouGov poll for Times Radio this week suggested that 34% of people now believe she should retire, rather than remain queen for life, up from 25% last month.
Just under half (49 percent) said she should still be queen, down 10 points from last month.
Meanwhile, Charles’ stock is up: 36 percent think he will become a good king, up four points from last month, according to the poll of 1,990 people.
His visit to Canada comes as part of a series of senior royals to some of the 14 Commonwealth countries outside the UK where the Queen is also Head of State.
But the visits, which included the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, were not fully planned, particularly in the Caribbean.
There, Prince William, Charles’ eldest son, faced protests over past royal ties to slavery, demands for reparations and growing Republican sentiment.
His younger brother, Prince Edward, has seen similar protests, in a sign that the global reach of the monarchy that Charles will inherit is likely to be greatly diminished.
Royal historian Robert Lacey said the visits, widely criticized as an insensitive throwback to the colonial era, represented a “radical change” in royal tours abroad.
“There must be serious thought about what works in the future…what activities are appropriate, and whether military and ritual-like tours in particular are in keeping with the modern world,” he said. France Press agency.
– Support declines –
Charles and his wife Camilla, 74, could be on safer ground in Canada, which the Queen has visited 22 times since 1951 – a year before she took the throne.
Their visit from Tuesday to Thursday will be the Prince of Wales’ 19th visit since 1970, and the Duchess of Cornwall will be the fifth since 2009.
They will travel thousands of miles from Newfoundland and Labrador in the east to the Northwest Territories in northern Canada.
A special reception is scheduled to be held in the National Capital Region of Canada on the occasion of the jubilee.
However, there are signs of a growing estrangement among members of the royal family in the world’s second largest country, according to the latest poll.
Nearly two-thirds of Canadians still view the Queen favorably. However, a majority (51 percent) is now no longer in favor of maintaining a constitutional monarchy.
Part of the decline in support is related to the development of views about colonialism, as Canada reckons with its past, including the abuse and death of Aboriginal children.
The discovery of at least 1,300 Aboriginal graves in former state boarding schools over the past year has led to a massive search for self.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who met the Queen at Windsor Castle in March, has made reconciliation a priority for his government.
Charles and Camilla, whose program touches on topics close to their heart, including climate change and literacy, will acknowledge the abuse during the visit.
Deputy Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs and Development Chris Fitzgerald said the prince would connect with Aboriginal communities on the trip.
“For five decades, His Royal Highness has continued to learn from indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world,” he said last month.
“He recognizes their deep connections to land and water and the important traditional knowledge they possess to restore harmony between people and nature.” (AFP)