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The King and Keir: Is Charles about to get a prime minister of his choice?


About 20 years ago, a young human rights lawyer named Keir Starmer tell a documentary filmmaker He found it “odd” to have the title of Queen’s Counsel “because I have often advocated the abolition of the monarchy”.

Mr Starmer is now UK Labour PartyHe has long denied that his anti-monarchy rhetoric was the indiscretions of youth. In 2014, he knelt before Charles, then Prince of Wales, who tapped him on the shoulder with a sword and knighted him.

If Sir Keir Starmer wins 10 Downing Street at next week’s general election, Opinion polls show he willhe may end up being more in sync with Charles politically than even the two previous Conservative prime ministers, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, whose terms overlapped with the king’s reign.

Issues involved include climate changeExperts say Starmer is likely to find common ground with the long-serving prime minister on issues including housing, immigration and Britain’s relationship with the European Union. Often enthusiasticviews on these issues, but Constitutional prohibition Participation in any political role.

Ed Owens, a historian who studies the royal family, said: “A Labour government under Keir Starmer will pay more attention to the plight of the people as a social issue. Such issues have long been a focus of the king. There is agreement on the social issues involved.”

If elected Prime Minister, Mr Starmer will serve as Weekly Meetings Prince Charles will attend the wedding, which will be between the two of them. But people close to Buckingham Palace and Downing Street say they can foresee a productive relationship between the 75-year-old monarch and the 61-year-old lawyer, who was knighted for his services to criminal justice during his time as director of public prosecutions.

In addition to Starmer’s progressive politics, academics say Charles would appreciate the stability that could be restored after a post-Brexit Labour government, which has seen divisions, political turmoil and changes in leadership. After all, with less than two years in office, Charles could soon be on his third stint as prime minister.

“The monarchy seeks to be a unifying force, to bring the country together, so it favours consensus rather than division,” said Vernon Bogdanor, a professor at King’s College London and an authority on constitutional monarchy. “That’s how the king sees his role.”

But Professor Bogdanor added: “His mother represented the wartime generation, while the king represented the 1960s generation more.”

As monarch, Charles does not have a vote. But during his decades as heir apparent, he was outspoken about issues that mattered to him, such as organic agriculture and architectureOccasionally, he Politically sensitive issues leaked.

In 2022, Charles Reportedly criticized Conservative government plans to allow some asylum seekers One-way flights to Rwanda His comments, made at a private meeting, came weeks after he represented Queen Elizabeth II at a meeting of Commonwealth nations in the Rwandan capital of Kigali, and were subsequently reported by The Times and the Daily Mail.

Clarence House, where Charles’ office was located at the time, declined to comment on the reports but did not deny them.

This prompted Boris Johnson, then the British prime minister who proposed the Rwanda plan, to complain to Charles, according to Guto Harri, the prime minister’s communications director at the time. He described Mr. Johnson “To confront the prince and ask him what he – as an unelected member of the royal family – has said about the actions of an elected government.”

Charles has not said a word about Rwanda since then. In April, under Sunak, parliament passed a revised version of the bill and the king gave his assent to it, which is his duty to make it into law. But Starmer vowed that a Labour government The plan will be cancelledand called it costly and unfeasible.

Climate policy is another area where the king may find a Labour government more aligned with his views. Ms Truss asked Charles not to attend the 2022 UN climate change conference in Egypt, depriving him of a platform to speak out on perhaps his most cherished issue. Mr Sunak later walked back some of the UK’s emissions reduction targets on the grounds that they were cost-prohibitive during a cost-of-living crisis.

In contrast, Labour announced a green investment plan worth 28 billion pounds ($35 billion) a year, but the party has since suspended its spending targets until the U.K.’s public finances improve.

“It does sound like the New Labour government and Charles will be moving with the times on these issues,” said Mr Owens, the historian. “But Labour says a lot of nice things about the importance of a green agenda. Can they put those nice words into action?”

Starmer’s devotion to the law might also save the king from the same dilemma his mother faced in 2019. Johnson asked her Suspension or adjournment of a meeting At the time, British lawmakers were taking steps to delay Britain’s plan to leave the European Union.

The Queen agreed, but the UK Supreme Court later The decision was ruled to be illegalCritics accused Johnson of putting Elizabeth in an untenable position because she cannot defy an elected government. Ms Truss raised similar governance issues when she proposed Massive unfunded tax cuts In 2022, this triggered a violent backlash in financial markets that sank her premiership.

“These prime ministers can run wild with the rules,” Owens said. “Monarchies in general don’t like people paying too much attention to the constitution.”

Although it may sound counterintuitive, historians say Elizabeth had better relations with Labour prime ministers than with Conservative ones. Very comfortable She interacted frequently with Harold Wilson, a down-to-earth Yorkshireman, and with Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher. It is said to sting sometimes.

To be sure, the early Labour Party had an anti-monarchical bent. Its first parliamentary leader, Keir Hardie – Mr Starmer’s first name – Once wrote: “Autocracy and monarchy are compatible, but democracy and monarchy are an unthinkable combination.”

Conservative politicians have used videos of Starmer as a young man to suggest that Labour hates the monarchy, but the party had already developed into a credible constitutional party long before Starmer came to power. Analysts say that Starmer is likely to sweep away any remaining anti-monarchist sentiment after he takes office. Purge the party of the extreme left After he becomes leader in 2020.

In the Labour Party 2022 Party CongressThe national anthem was played for the first time since the queen’s death, with Mr Starmer, who has talked about abolishing the monarchy, belting out: “God save the King.”

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