Infidelity, ‘Black Spider’ letters and a cash-for-honors scandal: Charles’ greatest pitfalls

King Charles III

Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

  • The reign of King Charles III. will be officially proclaimed by the Accession Council on Saturday.
  • However, the king has not been without his fair share of scandals over the years.
  • We take a closer look at the king’s biggest pitfalls, from his divorce from Diana to his more recent money-for-honor scandal.
  • “The Queen is well loved, Charles less so.

Charles has been a controversial royal over the years, from his affair during his marriage to Princess Diana and alleged ongoing political meddling, to the occasional slip-up and scandal with aides-de-camp.

Queen Elizabeth II’s eldest son has never enjoyed the same public affection as his mother, which could add to the challenges he now faces as king.

He’s grappled with a string of PR headaches for decades, including allegations of being cold towards his enduringly popular first wife, Diana.

Despite some better press lately, the tabloids were good at shooting at him because he seemed distant and unapproachable.

Meanwhile, Charles’ portrayal of his marital woes in the hit Netflix series The Crown may not have garnered much sympathy several decades after that troubled time.

He has also been accused of meddling in politics on various issues such as architecture, homeopathy and climate change.

And in 2021, his most trusted aide resigned as a royal courtier for the second time in his career amid controversy.

“I think all this stuff is harmful, from The Crown to reality to everything that’s going on,” royal author Penny Junor said in late 2021 as Cash for honor scandal Involvement of Charles’ charity empire erupted.

“None of this is good news. The Queen is loved very much, Charles is loved less. I think it will be difficult for him whatever happens, but all these revelations are not helpful.”

Diana said “there were three people” in their marriage

Charles’ image was shattered during his acrimonious split from Diana.

In her extraordinary year 1995 interview In revealing her feelings about his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, Diana famously said “there were three people” in their marriage.

Princess Diana, Martin Bashir

Martin Bashir interviews Princess Diana at Kensington Palace in 1995 for the Panorama TV show.

The royal couple had made the bombshell announcement in 1992 that they were separating, but after the fallout from the controversial sit-down with the BBC’s Panorama programme, they finally agreed to a divorce.

With her version of events – and an admission of her own infidelity – Diana laid bare her struggles within Britain’s most famous family, criticized the royals and questioned Charles’ suitability to be king.

It sparked horror from sections of the British establishment but won her public sympathy, which only increased after her death in a car crash in Paris in 1997.

Charles has long been vilified for both the extramarital affair blamed for the split and in part for the royals’ poor initial handling of Diana’s death, when they were widely criticized for being heartless and not in tune with the public.

However, he has gradually regained some public support and grudgingly accepted that he has found happiness with Camilla, whom he married in 2005.

OPINION | “Troublesome times are ahead” when the reign of King Charles III. begins

Camilla Parker Bowles, Prince Charles

Camilla Parker Bowles and Prince Charles (Picture: Getty Images)

‘Black Spider’

Charles has stirred controversy because he appears to have spoken out publicly and put pressure on politicians on various contentious public issues, from health to the environment.

In a now infamous series of letters between himself and government ministers, known as the “black spider” memos because of his scribbled handwriting, Charles quizzed them on a range of subjects.

Published by The Guardian newspaper in 2015 after a decade-long legal battle, they included the plight of the Patagonian Toothfish and its famous mumbo-jumbo, modernist blueprints.

Charles’ opposition to a bold new design first caught public attention in 1984 when he likened plans to remodel London’s National Gallery to adding a “monstrous carbuncle to the face of a beloved and elegant friend”.

The disclosure of the “Black Spider’s” letters sparked a backlash against the then-King, fearing he was overstepping his role.

However, in a 2018 interview to mark his 70th birthday, Charles insisted he had never directly involved himself in party politics and understood the difference between the Prince of Wales and the monarch.

money for honor?

More recently, Charles was involved in an alleged money scandal.

A series of newspaper revelations claimed his close associates coordinated work to bestow a royal honor and even British citizenship on a Saudi businessman who had donated large sums to restoration projects of particular interest to Charles.

Michael Fawcett, his former valet who rose through the ranks to become executive director of his charitable foundation, resigned in 2021 after launching an internal investigation into the allegations.

It was the latest claim to tarnish Fawcett — and by extension, Charles.

In 2003, Fawcett resigned after being accused of breaking palace rules and accepting valuable royal favors.

He was later cleared of charges of financial misconduct in selling unwanted royal gifts, but an internal report found various members of Charles’ household guilty of “grave negligence”.

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