King Charles III: The challenges and work that lies ahead

King Charles III: the challenges and work that lies ahead | Soho House

Author and journalist Dylan Jones has known Britain’s new King for a number of years. He explains why he believes King Charles III will be a force for good

Saturday 10 September   By Dylan Jones   Photography by Pool/Getty Images

The mood music of the country has changed fundamentally since 6.15pm last Thursday evening. In all the thousands of hours of pontificating talking heads, and the hundreds of thousands of heartfelt words contextualising the forthcoming changes a new monarchy will bring, there has been an undertow of dread.  

We all know that the death of the Queen will cause an existential wrench. As she was the only monarch most of us had ever known, for many her death feels almost like a death in the family. But in many of the editorials and conversations there have been references to the fact that our new King is going to be slightly more unwieldy than his mother. Opinionated. Thought-provoking. Outspoken. Difficult. 

The new King has a mind of his own, apparently, and he’s about to let us know what’s on it. 

Well, speaking as someone who has known the King for a number of years, all I can say is that he is going to be far more adept at managing the transition than many people think. You need to consider that he has had more preparation for this role than any of his predecessors. Not only does he know completely what is expected of him, but he also knows that in his previous role as the Prince of Wales he was in the privileged position of being able to engage in contemporary politics.  

He also knows that this is not what is required of him now. What is required now is a period of healing, a period of leadership, and a period of outreach. 

I’m also of the option that he will have a positive effect on the cultural health of the country. He has been a keen environmentalist, is passionate about craftsmanship and farming, understands the challenges of the wool industry and has a tremendously pragmatic opinion about civic architecture. And, having worked with him over the past 15 years as part of the Prince’s Trust, Fashion Rocks and London Collections: Men (which I launched 10 years ago; now London Fashion Week Men’s), I also know that his interest in and knowledge of the arts is huge. This is not a man who is going to pay lip service to government bodies.  

Smart enough not to embroil himself in culture wars, experienced enough to avoid the various PR pitfalls ahead and savvy enough to navigate the eddies of our great art institutions without looking like a fogey, I think he will be a force for good. 

A few years ago, I spent several months dipping in and out of his world, both here and abroad, and it was fascinating to see him work, up close and personal. Firstly, I was actually quite shocked at how much he needs the love and support of his wife – they are a really lovely touchy-feely couple – and how much he relies on her during the endless walkabouts. Secondly, I was more than impressed with the way in which he dealt with members of the public, even the difficult ones. Of course he employs a comic mask to defuse situations, but underneath it all he has a fierce understanding of how people work. 

I’ve seen him on dozens of meet-and-greets and he is always more engaged than you expect. Just over a month ago we invited him to visit the reopening of the renovated Hay Castle, at Hay-On-Wye. I’d curated the opening exhibition, which featured pictures of writers and creatives from the National Portrait Gallery (Tracey Emin, Salman Rushdie, Jan Morris, Bernardine Evaristo among them). It was hoped that it would encourage more tourists back to the famous town of books.  

As I lead HRH round the gallery, explaining the aims of the show, he tapped me on the arm, smiled quietly, and said, ‘I get it.’ 

And he does. King Charles III: a force for good. 

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