King Charles
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Insider Spills on What It’s Like to Work for King Charles

King Charles’ first year as monarch has been a journey of steady leadership, marked by the absence of significant changes within the British monarchy, according to insights from a former royal family staffer. As the U.K. and the global community recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of King Charles’ coronation, Paul Burrell, a longtime servant in the royal household, shared his experiences and observations of working with the king.

Burrell, who started his career as a footman for Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 18, later served in the household of then-Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Following the royal couple’s separation, he continued his service with Princess Diana until her untimely death in 1997. Reflecting on the transitions within the monarchy, Burrell expressed doubts about King Charles’ ability to emulate the revered reign of his mother, as per Cheat Sheet.

In an interview, Burrell remarked, “If the royal family were a ship it would be ‘steady as she goes.’ There have been no major dramas in changing the face of the monarchy. Kate and the king are going through a rough patch at the moment but they seem to be sailing through OK.”

He further elaborated on the challenges and limitations faced by King Charles, suggesting a transitional role for the current monarch. “Charles can never succeed the way his mother did because he hasn’t got the time to do it. Forever he will be known as the caretaker king, the one who is keeping the seat warm for William. However, William doesn’t want it very soon. He wants to continue life with his family, that’s what matters to him. I don’t think we will see any dramatic changes in this monarchy, but we will in the next.”

Anticipating a significant shift under Prince William, Burrell highlighted a future monarchy that might eschew traditional pomp in favor of a more relatable, personable approach. “You will see huge changes, and all the pomp and pageantry will go because William hates all of that. He doesn’t like to be on public display all the time and will do away with all of that. He will define his monarchy by being the people’s king, after his mother.”

The conversation also turned to King Charles’ reputed temperament, with Burrell noting the monarch’s “hot-headed” nature. However, he credited Queen Camilla’s influence as stabilizing. “The family has done a great job in rallying around the king to make his first year a successful but easy one. I can’t help but think that the household staff have not had a very easy year … I know that from first-hand experience. He’s hot-headed but the family knows that and I think with Camilla’s steady hand on his shoulder that seems to have been tempered to quite an extent. He doesn’t flare up as much as he used to.”

Reflecting on the lingering presence of Queen Elizabeth’s legacy, Burrell concluded, “But it seems to me as if [Queen Elizabeth] is still here because there were more celebrations around her birthday. We are still in the throes of missing our late queen and I think Charles has just taken over the reins where [she] left off.”

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