King Charles mulls patronages after queen’s death

LONDON (AFP): The late Queen Elizabeth II was patron of numerous good causes, as is her son King Charles III, but he will now look to redistribute them among the Royal Family.

The queen, who will lie in state from Wednesday until her funeral Monday, was patron of 600 causes including the British Red Cross humanitarian group and the Royal Society science academy.

Lesser-known yet peculiarly British patronages included the Royal Pigeon Racing Association and Bowls England, the national governing body for outdoor flat green bowls.

Charles, a lifelong champion of the environment with some 500 patronages, indicated that he will delegate some duties after her death last week.

– ‘Trusted hands’ –

“My life will of course change as I take up my new responsibilities,” Charles said in his first address as king last Friday, one day after his mother’s death.

“It will no longer be possible for me to give so much of my time and energies to the charities and issues for which I care so deeply.

“But I know this important work will go on in the trusted hands of others.”

British royals lend their support to a combined 3,000 groups to highlight good causes, secure publicity and raise valuable funds.

Patronages — links with charities, military associations, professional bodies and public service organisations — represent about one quarter of the royal family’s activities.

The queen had already been winding down activities since her 90th birthday in 2016, when she made her grandson William’s wife, Kate, patron of Wimbledon’s All England Lawn Tennis Club.

“In the last few years, the queen was passing on patronages to other members of the royal family; the process had already begun,” said Majesty Magazine managing editor Joe Little told AFP.

“Nothing will happen immediately, but (they) will be distributed among the family.”

– Environmentalist –

Charles’ environmental credentials include campaigning for better conservation, organic farming and tackling climate change.

He has been president of the WWF-UK animal charity since 2011 and about 80 of his patronages are green causes — including Surfers Against Sewage.

The new king, 73, may therefore decide to keep supporting causes that are closest to his heart or hand over their running to foundations, according to Little.

Yet the queen’s former patronages will be shared among other royals in a process that could take several years, he added.

Charles might decide to curb the number of patronages as part of a possible plan to pursue a slimmed-down monarchy under his reign.

The royal family’s historic patronages date back to the 18th century, when King George II decided to lend his support to the Society of Antiquaries charity — of which the late queen remained a fellow.

In the same way, many patronages have been passed from sovereign to sovereign.

Since her death, organisations have lined up to praise the queen’s active support during her 70-year reign.

Vocal groups include the Chatham House think-tank and Fields in Trust, a charity protecting green spaces that was founded by her father George VI in 1925 — one year before Elizabeth was born.

Each Christmas, the queen would visit the Women’s Institute (WI) near her Sandringham estate in eastern England.

Yet royal patronages are not without their critics.

– ‘Nightmare’ –

Research group Giving Evidence concluded in a 2020 study that there was “no evidence” that royal links helped the income of charities.

“I have heard some charities say that the royal patrons are fantastic, and they help a lot,” Giving Evidence founder Caroline Fiennes told AFP.

“If you can go to a meeting particularly abroad and you can take a princess with you, then you can get meetings that you wouldn’t get normally.

But she said she’d heard “other charities say it’s a complete nightmare.”

“They don’t like the royal they’ve got (but) they can’t get rid of them. They can’t upgrade them for a better royal,” she added without naming any particular member.

‘Can’t bear this bloody thing!’

During his signing ceremony in Northern Ireland on Tuesday, King Charles III looked visibly vexed, as his pen started leaking. This is the second time in four days, that King lost his cool during a ceremony in Belfast.

In a widely shared social media post, he could be seen signing a visitor’s book in front of cameras at Hillsborough Castle, accompanied by his wife and Queen consort Camilla Parker Bowles. At first, he signed the wrong date, thinking its September 12, when it was September 13.

He then lost his cool after the pen he was using leaked on him. “Oh god, I hate this (pen)!” Charles said, standing up and handing the pen to his wife, Camilla, Queen Consort. “Oh look, it’s going everywhere,” Camilla said as her husband wiped his fingers. “I can’t bear this bloody thing … every stinking time,” Charles said as he walked away.

King Charles III’s visit to Belfast drew a rare moment of unity from politicians in a region with a contested British and Irish identity that is deeply divided over the monarchy. He returned to London as his mother Queen Elizabeth II’s casket was brought to the Buckingham Palace.

Charles will be visiting the four nations of the UK – England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Hundreds gathered around Hillsborough Castle near Belfast, the royal family’s official residence in Northern Ireland, in the latest outpouring of affection following the queen’s death. The area in front of the gates to the castle was carpeted with hundreds of floral tributes.

While there was a warm welcome in Hillsborough, the British monarchy draws mixed emotions in Northern Ireland, where there are two main communities: mostly Protestant unionists who consider themselves British and largely Roman Catholic nationalists who see themselves as Irish.