When the Prince of Wales considers the matter, he must at times be jealous of President Michael D Higgins, who has a great deal of leeway in expressing his opinion.
Whenever Prince Charles – who is now effectively regent, since Queen Elizabeth is in such frail health – is heard to speak his mind, other than just subjects, he is thrashed by the British media and constitutional experts.
President Higgins, on the other hand, can make political statements quite frankly about the causes he prefers, and no politician ever puts a watchful hand on his shoulder, saying: “Frankly, the office of the president is considered apolitical. There’s been some grumbling on social media, but President Higgins is well-liked and popular, and – I’m just guessing here – most Irish people are probably happy with his performance.
Last week, Charles was heard privately to condemn Boris Johnson’s policies, particularly the plan to send illegal immigrants to Rwanda in an effort to prevent Channel crossings in small boats (about 30,000 illegal immigrants did this last year). had a dangerous journey).
Charles described the idea as “catastrophic”, and as such, he was supported by both the Anglican and Catholic senior churches.
However, in the mainstream media they are called “No Politics!” And a dire warning against the dangers of “interfering” in the political arena of the royals.
Meanwhile, President Higgins made somewhat controversial remarks on the heinous massacre of 50 Catholics at St. Francis Xavier’s Church in Owo, Nigeria – originally built by Irish missionaries.
The president appropriately commiserated with the victims of such a horrific incident, but said that local shepherds should not be made scapegoats, and blamed “climate change” for these troubles.
He was reprimanded by the Bishop of Ondo, Jude Arogunde, who called the remarks “inaccurate and far-fetched”. President Higgins has since denied that he linked the attack to climate change, saying he was only commenting on the plight of pastoralists in the region.
He has given speeches during his two terms on several occasions that some consider outright political – from condemning the British Empire to praising the European Union – and many of the themes of his discourses reflect his left-wing political background (though Since the economic collapse of Venezuela, he has eased into appreciating Hugo Chávez and his socialist legacy). Yet most people probably do not object to – and many may support – the president’s general values. As he was elected with a landslide, perhaps no government politician would dare to raise the point that the role of the head of state in the Republic of Ireland is expected to be non-partisan and non-political.
Charles – especially as he gets closer to becoming king – is judged more harshly. Although his views are often supported by good and noble people, such as the Archbishop of Canterbury, he is mocked for some of his high ideals.
When he pleads for mercy for the refugees, his critics ask how many illegal immigrants are being held at Clarence House. While he urges the public to adopt organic farming and abandon the use of artificial fertilizers – as he whips up his own brand of organic biscuits, Duchy Originals – it is cautiously pointed out that most people prefer simple meals. Concerned about the price, can’t possibly afford organic ingredients (or expensive duchy biscuits) and, moreover, artificial fertilizers and pesticides have made immeasurable progress in food production globally.
Anyone, prince or pauper, is entitled to a personal opinion, but British monarchs have learned the hard way that they should never interfere in politics. George V was an ardent Unionist and hated Ireland leaving the United Kingdom, but he buttoned his lips and tried to “hold the ring” between John Redmond and Edward Carson in earnest. His wife, Queen Mary, tried to intervene to save Terrence McSweeney’s life while on hunger strike, but then-Prime Minister Lloyd George let her go about her business.
The latter monarch, George VI, was privately upset about leaving the Commonwealth of Ireland in 1948, but knew to be very cautious about expressing an opinion.
British monarchs are always reminded that Charles I was beheaded to reduce the power of the monarchy. Since then, parliament is supreme and the monarch must remain completely neutral. As the reign of Charles III draws near, he must be very prudent about his personal views.
The President of Ireland has a limited term: he will not last forever. For this reason, among others, any opinion is more indulgent.
An emperor is not chosen, but is in the job for life.
Even more so, on any controversial issue, he must remain thoroughly scholar.