Prince Charles turnoil: Demands for referendum to ‘get rid of monarchy’ when he is king

Prince Charles and Prince William lay wreaths at Cenotaph

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It was a mixed week for Prince Charles last week as the royal marked his 73rd birthday, but was also forced to step into his mother’s shoes as the Queen’s health remains a concern. The Prince of Wales commemorated his birthday with a new portrait of him sitting on a bench at Highgrove, released on Sunday. However, he looked emotional on Remembrance Sunday as he filled in for the Queen to lay down a wreath at the Cenotaph in London just hours after it was announced that his mother would be unable to attend the event due to a sprained back. Charles is next in line to the throne, and will be preparing to take on the additional responsibility that comes with being King.

But various experts have warned the Prince of Wales could face a number of challenges.

A group of anti-monarchy campaigners warned that the beginning of Charles’ reign will be the appropriate moment to hold a referendum on whether the UK should keep its Royal Family.

Republic – the campaign group which has called for the abolition of the monarchy – claims the Royal Family is not the “harmless tourist attraction some people think”.

Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic, said in 2016 that the organisation’s view is to have a referendum on the monarchy as soon as possible.

He argued that the beginning of Charles’ reign could increase republicanism in the UK.

Mr Smith told The Independent: “It will be the first time most people have seen a change in the head of state.

“I think that’s going to be a slightly odd, jarring experience for a lot of people. All of a sudden you’ve got this other monarch who has been hoisted upon us and no debate about who it is going to be.

“For once, actually seeing hereditary power in practice – you’ll actually see the inheritance of the throne taking place”.

He added: “It [the referendum] is to get rid of it… it needs to be a straight-forward constitutional reform referendum.

“We may win or we may lose but the succession would change public opinion, it will change the nature of the debate.

“I think most public opinion is indifferent to the whole thing and an awful lot of it is tied up with the Queen. Over the next ten years the debate is going to pick up because people will be coming alive to the fact that Charles is looming on the horizon as King.”

Republic states on their website that a referendum can be called once public opinion is consistently shown to be in favour of abolishing the monarchy.

The group advocates for a new, elected head of state to represent the country and a new constitution.

As well as this, palaces including Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, St James’s Palace and Kensington Palace, would all remain as national property while the Windsor family would keep their private properties such as Balmoral and Sandringham.

In September, a royal expert also warned that the Queen’s popularity will make it “very hard” for Charles.

Jonathan Sacerdoti told Express.co.uk that the Queen’s “incredible leadership” over the last seven decades had made it difficult for the future king to “step into her shoes”

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He told Express.co.uk: “It’s interesting because I’ve been keeping an eye occasionally on the surveys that YouGov do about the popularity of the royals ‒ they have a sort of league table of who is the most popular that shows them going up and down.

“On the one hand, that seems frivolous, on the other hand, it’s quite an interesting idea because Prince Charles suffers, in a way, under the immense popularity of his mother, the Queen.

“I think that there is one way in which that is a slight problem for him and for the monarchy generally, because she’s been there for so long, that there isn’t anyone who can remember anything other than Queen Elizabeth II in their lifetimes.

“She’s widely thought of as a very responsible, solid, safe pair of hands, who has shown incredible leadership in a very difficult, and some would say an antiquated role.”

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