Much has been made of Prince Charles and his visit to Berlin. Did he break royal protocol in his speech? I don't think so.
As soon as I heard what Prince Charles had said on his visit to the German parliament, I knew the knives would be out for him.
Meghan and Harry being criticized for their antics during the weeks before the U.S. presidential elections mean that any time a frontline royal so much as sneezes in public, the Sussex fans will be scrutinizing it for possible political meaning.
I initially feared that such scrutiny might see the royals become hesitant in speaking about the subjects that matter to them.
That fear was quickly put to bed when I found out what Prince Charles had said at the Bundestag.
There’s a belief among certain people that the future king is something of an idiot. We’ve all heard the accusations about Prince Charles speaking to his plants and his views on the climate.
Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. Charles is an educated, intelligent, and highly principled man.
Perhaps his only real fault is his soft spot for his children, where he can be too loyal and trusting. Almost to a fault, as we’ve found out in recent times.
But still, during his visit to Germany, Prince Charles took center stage with an impassioned plea for Brexit not to drive a wedge between the peoples of Britain and Germany.
Speaking from the heart, Charles commented:
As our countries begin this new chapter in our long history, let us reaffirm our bond for the years ahead. The English poet John Donne famously wrote that ‘no man is an island entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. One might equally submit that no country is really an island either, other than in the wholly literal sense. Our histories bind us tightly together and our destinies, although each our own to forge, are interdependent to a considerable degree.
Now I don’t know about you, but that is the kind of inspirational speech that even Robert Lacey and his chums at Netflix would be hard-pressed to match in an episode of The Crown.
The question is, did Prince Charles break royal protocol as Sussex fans and royal critics claim?
Sorry to disappoint the usual suspects, but it seems clear to me that Prince Charles did not break royal protocol during his speech.
In fact, I’d wager that when penning his words beforehand, he consciously went to great lengths to ensure it would not be the case.
For me, these words are what sets his speech apart from the antics of his son and daughter-in-law:
The United Kingdom has chosen a future outside the European Union, and the relationship between our countries is evolving once again. Its shape is a matter negotiated between our governments, and its essence is defined by the enduring connections between our people. It is, therefore, my heart-felt belief that the fundamental bond between us will remain strong: we will always be friends, partners, and allies. As our countries begin this new chapter in our long history, let us reaffirm our bond for the years ahead.
There is no hint at all that Prince Charles is offering an opinion either way on Brexit. You wouldn’t know if he was for or against it, which is key when comparisons are drawn with Meghan and Harry’s election speeches.
They did not hide their opinion and who they were endorsing. Charles didn’t do that here. He made it clear that a decision had been made and that the negotiations which follow are the business of the respective governments involved.
He is merely making the point that regardless of Brexit, it’s crucial that, as people, the British and Germans retain the bond that has helped nurture a good relationship between both countries since the conclusion of the second world war.
If anything, this speech has increased my respect for Prince Charles. Surely the British people should want their future king to be vocal on matters that affect his country and his people?
As royalty, we expect the likes of Prince Charles to rise above politics and to always do what is right for his people, and this speech is a terrific example of just that.
He didn’t look to influence anyone with his own political beliefs. He made an impassioned plea that as people, we take whichever decision has been reached and ensure that our relationships do not falter.
Bravo, Prince Charles.