The unshod shoes of the new king

“With Charles, there are positives… but there are negatives.”

Louise Macmorran is not overflowing with enthusiasm. The Londoner, who was among the crowds outside St. James’s Palace, came to see the proclamation of the new King Charles III on Saturday morning.

Unlike the day before, when the atmosphere was solemn and sad, today is a time of excitement. Although, of course, the death of Queen Elizabeth has not yet healed. And while many Britons I met on the ground are overly enthusiastic about welcoming the new monarch, many others have reservations about a king whose past includes some controversial elements.

He has always been very committed to the environment,” says Louise Macmorran. But the negative is the whole Diana thing.”

The specter of the ill-fated princess, ex-wife of the new king, undeniably hangs over Charles III’s arrival in office. Originally from Warwick, a town 80 miles north of London, Duncan and Karen Eaton speak passionately about the royal family and are visibly moved to witness this unique moment. “But I’m concerned about Diana,” says Karen.

She was nevertheless captivated by Charles’s very first speech, broadcast the day before. “It was the first time I could relate to him. He showed genuine compassion,” she said. “The way he’s been received since yesterday, I think he’ll be popular.”

An optimism not shared by Pauline Maddison and Marie Anderson, who came to watch the proclamation with other family members. “He has impossible shoes to fill,” said Pauline, who did not believe he would “rattle the cage” of the monarchy.

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Like everyone else interviewed at the event, the two women were very appreciative of the King’s speech the day before, which they felt was touching and heartfelt. “He addressed the concerns that some people have about his activism,” said Marie, explaining that some people criticize him for not being cautious about causes he cares about, such as the environment.

Asked if they have faith in their new king, Pauline lets out a nervous laugh, “Next question, please!” She adds that she would have liked William, Charles’ son, to become king in his place.

It is his destiny to become king

Most of the thousands of people gathered around St. James’ Palace did not see the monarch, who quickly drove by to the delighted applause of the crowd, as did his son William. The latter enjoys an enviable popularity, and Pauline Maddison is not the only one who would have liked to see him take the throne instead of his father.

“It’s easier to identify with him than with Charles,” pleads young Kelsey Brunen. His mother, Karina Wink, is “not 100 per cent convinced” by the new king, but that’s okay. “It is his destiny to become king,” she says. Several citizens we met on the spot mentioned the long wait that Charles, who is 73 years old, had to endure before he could take the throne. Obviously, this wait commands the respect of many.

What’s more, the British citizens we met here were unanimous that it was only right that the order of succession be respected. Georgia and Max, a young London couple, conceded that “William probably has a better connection with the youth” of the country. “But I think Charles is going to surprise us,” says Georgia, excited to experience his proclamation with thousands of her fellow citizens.

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Charlie and Lina came with their little boy, who showed signs of impatience as the wait for the king’s arrival dragged on. He’s managed to leave his past behind,” Lina says. And he’s more than ready to become king.” She adds that he has been “an advocate for great causes like sustainable development or fighting climate change,” which makes him “quite progressive.”

In the streets around Buckingham Palace, people continue to flock to the Palace throughout the day on Saturday to lay a bouquet of flowers in memory of the late Queen. The crowd in front of the palace is almost impossible to get around, as they are so eager to see the King get out of his car.

If the enthusiasm for King Charles did not seem delirious among many, the devotion of so many British citizens to the monarchy was undeniable.

“Becoming king is his right,” Lina summarizes, smiling.