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“He is, quite simply, happier”

The King in Berlin: “He came, he spoke, he inspired.” Ronny Hartmann/AFP/Getty

Just seven months into Charles III’s reign, says Robert Hardman in The Spectator, you can already see “the ways in which he is going to be different” as a monarch. The “simplistic narrative” that he would have to “button his lip” over opinions he’s been voicing for decades has swiftly been debunked. Yes, he agreed not to attend the Cop27 climate summit. But squeezing into a conference with more than 100 other leaders would have been a “huge waste of a diplomatic trump card” anyway. Three months later, when UK ministers were struggling to attract high-level guests to their “biodiversity conference”, Charles graciously offered to host a Palace reception afterwards. All of a sudden, “both the numbers and the calibre of delegates shot up”. It’s a perfect illustration of how Charles sees his role – not “meddling”, but “mobilising” – the “convener King in action”.

Those who know him well have detected “something different” about the King lately. “He is, quite simply, happier.” That might seem odd when, having just buried his mother, he was immediately assailed by an explosive memoir and “six-part TV broadside” from his younger son. “Yet he is very clearly enjoying his new role.” I saw it time and again on his recent trip to Germany, during which he became the first foreign leader to be welcomed in front of the Brandenburg Gate, and the first to address the Bundestag in German, for which he drew “rave reviews”. As Germany’s best-selling paper, Bild, declared: “He came, he spoke, he inspired.” At the heart of his contentment, surely, is the new Queen. Like Prince Philip, Camilla takes a “no-nonsense, eye-on-the-clock” approach to the role of consort. “If the King is dawdling, a gentle tap of handbag on back usually does the trick.”