King Charles will do whatever it takes to shore up peace in Northern Ireland when he travels to Europe at the end of March, writes KATE MANSEY
- Brexit supporters have warned Sunak not to use the king for his own political ends
- The King and Queen Consort will travel to Europe for a new diplomatic mission
When King Charles travels to Europe at the end of March, it will not be the first time he has strayed into the Brexit debate.
In 2020, Charles and Camilla flew to Germany, where the then-Prince of Wales delivered an impassioned speech about the “enduring connections” between the two nations.
Four years after the British voted to secede from the EU, it was interpreted in some quarters as a coded signal of Charles’s continuing affection for the bloc: an indication, perhaps, that if he had been allowed to vote, he might have been a Tory rather than a Brexiteer.
Charles, speaking before the Bundestag, quoted the English poet John Donne, who wrote that “No man is an island”, telling the assembled politicians: “One might just as well assert that no country is really an island either, except in the totally literal”. sense. Our histories bind us closely, and our destinies, though each our own to forge, are interdependent to a considerable degree.’
Some saw parallels with the late queen’s comments just before the Scottish referendum on independence in 2014, when she said outside Crathie Kirk, the closest church to Balmoral, that she hoped Scots would “think very carefully about the future”.
A BIG MISTAKE? Brexiteers have warned Sunak not to use the king for his own political ends
Conservative MPs see it as an overtly political visit: a chance to smooth over relations that might otherwise bristle after the thorny business of reaching a deal.
Now, the King and Queen Consort will travel to the Continent for a new diplomatic mission, and it appears that it will take place after the government has finalized the complicated issue of the border with Northern Ireland in the Brexit negotiations.
Conservative MPs see it as an overtly political visit: a chance to smooth over relations that might otherwise sour after the thorny business of reaching a deal. As far as the King is concerned, it will be deeply personal. He will act primarily to preserve our ties with an even closer neighbour: Northern Ireland itself.
Like his late mother, the King is well versed in the history of Irish politics.
When Lord Mountbatten was killed in an IRA bomb blast in 1979, a heartbroken Charles described him as “the grandfather I never had”.
Today, it is said that protecting the peace process is the most important thing for him.
A source close to him said: ‘Northern Ireland is very important to the King, who makes it a point to visit every year.
“If he can rally the European allies to keep that up and solve the Northern Ireland problem after Brexit, then so much the better.”
In June 2012, the Queen paid a two-day visit to Northern Ireland culminating in a historic handshake with former IRA commander Martin McGuinness.
Now the King will continue his work, and it is likely that he will do so with frank words as well as deeds.
Unlike the late Queen, who rarely makes her personal views known, the public is already well aware of Carlos’ views on matters ranging from climate change to religion.
One member of the palace described him as “a king on campaign”; another, as a ‘Summoning King’.
As Prince of Wales, he reportedly described the government’s plan to deport immigrants to Rwanda as “appalling”.
And last week, as he marked a year of war in Ukraine, his views on arming President Volodymyr Zelensky’s forces were made clear when he said it was “encouraging” that the UK and its allies were doing “everything possible to help at this most difficult time.
“If he gathers allies to solve this, so much the better”