King Charles may find political tussles with Liz Truss hard to avoid | King Charles III
Charles has pledged to stand above politics now that he has succeeded his mother as monarch. But he is a man of strong views. During his weekly audiences with the prime minister, Liz Truss, there will be things on which they might not see eye-to-eye.
It was in 1970 that the then Prince of Wales made his first speech on the dangers of pollution. He has since said that people then regarded him as “potty” for speaking out. In November last year at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow, the King told world leaders that they needed to be on a “war footing” to tackle climate change because time had “quite literally run out”. While Truss has pledged to stick to the 2050 net zero target on carbon emissions, she has not been a vocal champion of the green agenda, having pledged to scrap green levies on energy bills and spoken out against solar panels in rural areas. She has also appointed Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has doubted whether climate change is caused by humans, as business secretary.
While the King has made few if any public interventions on the issue of fracking, most environmentalists believe he will not be a supporter of Truss’s decision to lift the moratorium on it. Fear of earthquakes, water and air pollution are among the reasons it is controversial. Another is that the natural gas it produces is still a fossil fuel.
The future of the union
The future of the union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will continue to be dear to the new King’s heart, as it was for his mother. As will maintaining good relations with international neighbours. Truss, however, is determined to drive a hard bargain with the EU on the Northern Ireland protocol, an approach that could endanger peace on the island of Ireland. Her trenchant pro-Brexit approach could also boost support for Scottish independence.
Poverty/cost of living crisis
Even during the period of national mourning Charles has spoken of his concerns over the spiralling cost of living. That in itself will not put him at odds with Truss, whose government will announce measures this week to help with energy bills. But Truss believes that the state should step back from people’s lives. The Prince’s Trust – the King’s creation – is, on the other hand, an interventionist organisation that helps those “facing the greatest adversity on to a pathway to employment” by “strengthening the network of opportunity and support for young people to give them the best chance of success in years to come”.