In case you hadn't heard, a little event called a Royal Wedding is unfolding in England this week. The popularity of Prince William and his pulchritudinous bride-to-be, Kate Middleton, has seemingly confirmed the image of William as "the perfect 21st-century king." There's just one problem: By tradition, his father, Prince Charles, must assume the throne before him. But, royal watchers are wondering if William might somehow take the crown in lieu of his father. Any chance?
It would be for the best: "William's popularity is helping reinvent the monarchy here, with his marriage to a glamorous bride cementing the easy-mannered 28-year-old's image as the perfect 21st-century king," says Anthony Faiola in The Washington Post. Beyond the gaping "popularity gap" between Charles and William, there's the question of whether controversial Camilla would be queen.
"In Britain, Prince William threatens to eclipse his father, Prince Charles"
But it's highly unlikely: If history is any guide, William won't bypass Charles, says Laura Trevelyan at BBC America. "The very foundations of the modern British monarchy are tradition and continuity — only in the case of a constitutional crisis, as when Edward VIII abdicated to marry Mrs. Simpson, does the line to the throne change." No matter how much the British people might prefer William, "the rules of that game are clear — it's an hereditary monarchy."
"Could the crown go to William, skipping Prince Charles?"
And Charles would never have it: For the monarchy to skip directly to William, Charles would need to "want to make himself scarce," says Newsweek editor Tina Brown, as quoted at NPR. That's not the case: Charles is set on being king and having Camilla as his queen. Still, he isn't popular, and "the question is how patient the British people are going to be when he's king."
"Modern monarch: Is the new royal couple the last?"
But the Queen is making some surprising moves: Behind the scenes, the Queen is "seriously considering the possibility" of stepping down, a move that would let "Charles on the throne for a short period of time and allow William, perhaps in his mid-40s, to become king," says Christopher Andersen, author of William and Kate, in an interview at Fox News. That would be a highly unconventional move, but, otherwise, William might not ascend the throne until he's nearly 70. "That would be a catastrophe for the monarchy."
"How Prince William could get on the 'fast track' to the throne"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
- How science is accelerating our search for alien life
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Why insects are the future of food
- The dangerously childish morality of liberal ObamaCare supporters
- Nearly half of Americans are dangling on the edge of financial ruin
Subscribe to the Week