Bitesize Episode 44 - Did King Charles actually want the throne?

Charlie Baxter

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What's this episode about?

In this (not so) bitesize episode, Charlie decides to focus on the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II and the newly appointed King Charles III. Charlie digs into the life a royal leads. Has some fun with it by finding out some rules we might not have known and deliberates over whether King Charles does indeed want to be King Charles or if he will look back on his days as Prince with extreme nostalgia.
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Transcript of Bitesize Ep 044 - Transcript

Hello and welcome to the British English podcast, the show all about British culture and teaching you British English with me, your host, Charlie Baxter. Today's episode is going to be about the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth, the second and the newly appointed King Charles the third. When my day was coming to a close on the 8th of September 2022, I decided to keep to the habit of putting my phone on charge in the other room to avoid having a more intimate relationship with my phone than my partner. And as I was putting it on charge or to bed. We could say I saw a notification pop up from the BBC with a headline about the Queen being under medical supervision after doctors had become concerned for her health. Bear in mind, at the time of experiencing and recording this, I am 10 hours ahead in terms of time zones because I'm in Australia, another country that is still ruled by the British monarchy and I went to bed reflecting on this news and thinking, Hey, this might indeed be the last day I live with a queen reigning down upon me instead of perhaps a king. I drifted off eventually and woke on. Would you believe it? The 9th of September, the day after the eighth. And I jumped up before saying hello to my partner to check my phone in the other room, which actually made me question my supposedly healthy habit.

And there it was. Queen Elizabeth, the second, had passed away. And Prince Charles, well, the title Prince was the name of the past for Charles, as he had been given the title of King Charles the Third. I looked out the window to ponder over his new title and what it must be like for him. Aside from mourning his mother's passing, I wondered if Charles would be pleased with this new title of King. Or in this day and age, is it more of a burden? Because from my extensive research of the monarchy, through an entirely factual program called The Crown, the thing I took away from it was that there was an inordinate amount of meetings, ceremonies and official proceedings that the Royals are obliged to attend. Being a simple man who likes to go where the wind takes him on a day to day basis, which admittedly is usually a coffee shop, I thought how much I'd struggle with that kind of life and was thankful that the only thing I share with this man is that our mothers are both called Elizabeth and we were both christened Charles. And before I knew it, I had indirectly paid my respects to Queen Elizabeth with a minute of silence thinking about the Windsors. Now, I know that many people have their qualms with the royal family. And I'm not here to say that what the UK gets back in tourism each year makes up for the systemic racism still apparent at the top of the food chain. Nor does it make up for the blood that has been shed over the centuries of ruling a kingdom. But this is perhaps a topic for another time when a member of the royal family hasn't just passed away. So in this episode, I thought I would dig a bit deeper about the life a royal leads, have some fun with it by finding out some rules we might not have known and deliberate over whether Charles does indeed want to be King Charles or if he will look back on his days as prince with extreme nostalgia.

All right, let's see. So after the obvious things like the crown jewels and the 100 corgis, what does Charles actually get out of this? Well, apparently, he inherits her private fortune without having to pay inheritance tax, which my parents have just found out is painfully high in the U.K., at 40% after a certain threshold. So he's got a nice bit of cheddar now, a few more castles or estates, some art and some jewellery. But being prince, surely you're not gagging for more of the above. Something that might tickle his fancy, though, is the fact that he has gone from being just another citizen who the police can arrest and take to court to now being above the law. The monarch is covered by what is known as sovereign immunity in the U.K., so he can now do whatever he likes and not get into trouble. I wonder if he has stopped to think about that at all. Surely you would. It might even be like a running joke in the family that the monarch should be the one to do things that are slightly illegal within their family. Like if you were going to go on a night out with your family and maybe the monarch should be the designated driver because you're never quite sure if, you know, one drink or two drinks is is over the limit. So it'd be nice to have that assurance so they can have a drink or two and not get arrested. And then if you were a really irresponsible group, you could, of course, have a designated drunk driver because she could never get arrested or he could never get arrested. Naughty, though, of course.

Oh, wow. The next rule is great as well. So apparently not only is he above the law, but he doesn't even need a driving license. Wow. He doesn't need a driving license. So even if he did get banned as prince from driving, he can now drive again. Yeah. Imagine that. He gets the throne and he gets the car keys to a new Bentley or something.

Oh, gosh. I didn't mean for this episode to be so focussed on road rules, but they also don't have to obey speed limits. Hang on. No, but I swear, Princess Anne was fined once for speeding. Let me check. Okay. So they are exempt from speed limits when they are with a police escort. And yet Princess Anne was fined 400 quid for doing 93 on a 70 mile per hour road in her Bentley. That'll do it. That'll do it. Princess Anne. I always heard about the 10% rule where you can go 10% more than the speed limit in the UK. Don't quote me on that, but that's how much more I thought you were allowed legally to go. But yeah. What other rules would I be keen to break if I was the head of the monarchy?

You know what I would like to do? I know it's not an issue for people with lots of money, but I'd love to just treat clothes shops as walk in wardrobes. So you're just walking around in town and and you're a bit bored of what you're wearing and you go into a clothes shop, find something new, and just take it off the rack and and out you go. Yeah. I mean, I guess if you've just got money, you can you can do that. But I mean, as in where would your old clothes go? I'd like... I don't think this is illegal, though. This is just crazy talk. Yeah, no, I'm going nowhere with that fast. Very fast.

Another very specific one I would enjoy is copyrighted music in my podcasts. But the last time I checked, old boy Charles, King Charles now, doesn't do much podcasting. He apparently likes skiing, fishing and painting, and he is interested in architecture. Hmm. Okay. So if I were in his shoes and wanted to have some fun, you know, really test this new sovereign immunity out, then I'd go. I'd go heli skiing in France because it's technically outlawed in the French Alps. I'd fish a bucket full of protected fish species. Gosh, that's a tongue twister. A bucket full of protected fish species. Um, he likes art. So maybe you go to a museum. I go to the Louvre in Paris - in Paris - and update the old Mona Lisa. Yeah. Maybe give her a monobrow whilst making eye contact with one of the guards. So you can't do anything. I'm the head of state. Although probably abroad, he might have some difficulties with doing a monobrow. Maybe just change her hairstyle, give her a fringe. What Americans are more likely to say, Give her some bangs or maybe even some dip dye highlights, that I think were popular for about all of one year. I don't know why I'm talking about hairstyles now. Just because Mona Lisa hasn't had a haircut in a while, has she? Then I'd walk out of the museum, probably smoking at this point, you know, you're up to your eyeballs in felonies, you might as well continue. So smoking, not that smoking is illegal, but what is illegal probably is a Cuban cigar that has been imported via the US. I think they are illegal due to the issues during the Cold War with America and Cuba. So yeah, he's smoking. I'm smoking. I'm smoking a Cuban cigar walking out of the Louvre, having just given Mona Lisa a monobrow. And before that I had done some heli skiing. And then I'd be wearing my crown throughout this whole experience, even the heli skiing. Erm He likes architecture... And then to balance the day out, I just go and appreciate some ruins in Athens, probably. Nothing illegal about that, but just, you know, you're tired of being mischievous. You can only be mischievous for so long, can't you?

But this limited imagination of what one could do with sovereign immunity is kind of touching on the theme of this episode, which is, is it really that fun being king? Because he already has loads of money. He wasn't going starving. And and now he's got all of these extra duties. I mean, he's got some more power than before. Sure. But gone are the days where the king or queen could simply make a hand gesture across the neck and have a person hung, drawn and quartered like that. And that's not to say that King Charles wishes to have that power reinstated. He's probably a lovely fella because he does a great deal of charity. You know, the Prince's Trust does wonderful things, so I hear. So I'm pretty certain he's not interested in beheading people, even though his ancestors bloody loved it.

Okay. Let's have a look at what Queen Elizabeth's day to day life was like to see what he's got in store for himself. So the late Queen Elizabeth the second used to start her day being woken by 15 minutes of bagpipes at 9 a.m.. I assume that was her preference and not a tradition that has been passed down the line for centuries. Imagine that as the head of state, you have to be subject to the bagpipes being blasted in your ears first thing in the morning for a quarter of an hour. Also 9 a.m.. I get a hard time from my partner if I stay in bed until 8. 9 a.m. is pretty late in my opinion. So after a healthy dose of Scottish sounding music, Queen Elizabeth would start reading the newspapers to keep up to date with all the current affairs, given that she was head of state of 16 governments and leader of the Commonwealth of over 50 nations. So yeah, with that considered I suppose she feels obliged to stay in the know.

And immediately, if you're wondering, I'm no longer interested in the position of King Charles because I love pretending to live under a rock or burying my head in the sand from time to time. I find it a bit repetitive to always have to, you know, keep up with the news every single day. And I also have a controversial thought on this one, which is that it's nice to not know all the news sometimes because friends often like to bring the news up in conversation to me. I don't mean to say that I've got news anchors as friends, but now and again they say, Oh, did you hear about so-and-so or did you see that you-know-what did that thing and I think it's nice to occasionally just occasionally say, no, I didn't. What happened? Do tell. Do tell me. Because it delights them to be informing somebody about something that they know. And for me, it's. It's like having a personalised news reporter at my beck and call.

All right. What's next? After the news, it's fan mail time. Hmm. Okay. So Her Majesty typically received over 300 letters from the public every single day. Surely she wasn't expected to respond to all of them. And it's also like real mail. Snail mail. She must have had a very strong pen hand, if you think about it. A lot of writing. Mine used to always let me down with those long essays you had to write in an exam. Yeah, I'd get a very sore hand, but yes. Surely she didn't have to write back to all of them. So she made it her personal mission to respond to a few of them each day, and then the rest would be replied to by a lady in waiting. What is a lady in waiting? I mean, Stacy is always waiting for me when I'm faffing before we go out and about. Does that make her a lady in waiting for me? Let's see. According to Wikipedia, a lady in waiting is a female personal assistant at a court. Historically in Europe, a lady in waiting was often a noble woman, but of a lower rank than the woman to whom she attended. So a lower ranked woman than the queen. Oh. Do you reckon it was Meghan Markle? Can't imagine she would have agreed to that. Imagine her there, shaking her hand with such a weak pen hand in comparison to the Queen perhaps, thinking 'I was a lead role in Suits. And now I'm just writing back to fan mail of my mother in law. This is rubbish!' I mean, no wonder they moved to Canada. That's hilarious. Imagine if it was, yeah, Kate or Catherine. Princess Catherine would be the lady in waiting until the next prince married. And then that passed on. Then they went to Canada and now it's back to Princess Catherine. Oh, the tension between them all is starting to really make sense now, isn't it? Yes. Okay, so the fan mail has been palmed off to the lady in waiting. Now what? I'd imagine she'd be up for a hunt or a horse ride of some sort by now.

Oh, no. Now she has to open the contents of the famous red boxes sent up by Her Majesty's private secretaries. And these are full of important letters. Not that the fan mail wasn't important, but, you know, these are cabinet documents, telegrams and state papers which she had to read, approve and sign. And they were sent to the Queen each and every day, wherever she was. The only day she had off from her red boxes was Christmas Day. And even then, it's not like she could chill out because she had a speech to write, record and maybe even edit and publish. Actually, she probably didn't have too much of an edit on her hands because I think she did it all in one take. Although I wonder if she ever messed up. How amazing would it be to see bloopers of the monarch reading a speech? Lucky for her, though, she didn't have to do a YouTube thumbnail, which always takes me way too long because she she could just call on the BBC. That'd be pretty nice to have the BBC on speed dial. This is the BBC.

But yeah, bless her. She had a lot of paperwork to get through. This would take her up until around 11 a.m., and then she would be taking 1 to 1 meetings with special guests such as overseas ambassadors, high commissioners, or senior members of the British and Commonwealth Armed Forces. I mean, all of these meetings sound pretty intense. I can't imagine they'd be talking about light hearted things. Sure, there'd be pleasantries, but again, I'm far from envious of the life the head of state must lead. Thankfully, though, after all that hard work in the morning, Queen Elizabeth allowed herself to have a lunch break, and apparently she'd often have it on her own. I mean, I'd probably want some me time after chatting to all those ambassadors. Oh, and according to a former royal chef, Queen Elizabeth tried to avoid carbs and would often opt for fish and vegetables at lunch. Wise woman probably wanted to avoid the after lunch slump, especially if she's got more people to be enthusiastic and endearing towards and of course, majestic at the same time. So let's see. Gosh. Yeah. So after lunch, she'd have more meetings in the afternoon. Sometimes it would have been family time scheduled in. I mean, let's go to the weekend because this is depressing me a bit.

Okay. Here we go. Here we go. She's on a horse. Lizzie went riding and would keep up to date with the progress of her racehorses. Yeah, she liked that, according to The Crown. I remember that. She also had pretty luxurious modes of transport to get from place to place. She had her own train called the Royal Train, and this would often help her get up to Scotland. I'm not sure. I wonder if the prince or anyone of a lower rank would be allowed to use the royal train. Maybe that's something that Charles is looking forward to using or to have exclusive rights to. You know, he doesn't... No longer needs to ask for his mother's permission to use the train. That might be nice. And going back to Queen Elizabeth, I heard a funny moment happened up in Scotland once when she was on a walk and bumped into an American tourist who didn't recognise her and asked her if she had ever spotted the Queen in this neck of the woods, upon which she immediately responded saying no and turned to her bodyguard and said, 'But he has!' Love that quick wit from Queen Elizabeth! And then the tourist wanted a picture with the bodyguard. And then after that, the bodyguard encouraged the tourist to also get a picture with Queen Elizabeth, which the tourist apparently seemed far less enthusiastic towards. And and then apparently the queen said, 'I'd love to see his reaction when somebody actually informs him of who I am'. I imagine he would, like, be like, oh, look, I met a guy on a walk who'd actually met the queen. Look. And then scrolling through the photos, he'd skip the queen and click on the guy. And then maybe someone else would be like. 'Go back. Who's that? What's.... That's the Queen!' So she obviously still got to enjoy herself, especially on the weekends on her royal train. And she also had a helicopter. Oh, my God. Charles is definitely going to do some illegal heli skiing now, isn't he?

And I just read a random other fact about her dogs. So in recent years, the number of corgis she owned has dwindled down to just two. And they're actually a cross breed between dachshund or dachshund, however you want to pronounce it, and corgi. And guess what they're called now? A mix between a dachshund and and a corgi is a dorgi! Ya know dorgis! So she had two dorgis and a former chef revealed he would simmer rabbit, cook down some chicken, finely chop the meat, sieve the stock through all of it I guess, and return the meat for these dorgis. Wow. I mean, if anyone is to be jealous of a royal life, it's. It's the life of a dorgi. Oh, to be a royal dorgi! Well, the good news there is that Charles doesn't have to adopt a pack of corgis, just two dorgis. Although I dare say he looks a bit like the type of king that would rather have dogs put down than to be forced to look after them. That might border on treason what I just said there. But I think he might. I think he would do that. Let's assume that he would find them a loving home. But, you know, they're going to be spoilt rotten. Those dogs slash dorgis. The faces they would pull if they got dry biscuits! Although I like a biscuit from time to time.

One duty I forgot to mention is that the head of state has to meet with the PM every week, usually on a Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.. If you are king or queen, how annoyed would you be if someone you didn't like got into office as Prime Minister? I wonder if they can vote. Let's check that. Oh, interesting. So there's there's nothing in written British law barring the monarch from voting in an election, but apparently it's just not the done thing. So although not prohibited by law, the UK Parliament says it is considered unconstitutional for the monarch to vote in an election. Hmm. I see. Okay. That's good to know. I'd be very tempted to vote if I knew that, you know, one of the two up for the election, and it was a close election, one of the two I just despised. I just wouldn't want to meet them every week, even if they had a better manifesto. Maybe that's why they don't vote. Yeah, that's probably it, isn't it? They'd be biased. I don't want to have a cup of tea with him or her every week. No, I don't care if they're saving the planet. I don't want a PG tips with that man. His haircut. Come on. Talking of which, she had to meet with Boris Johnson every Wednesday. And I don't know if I've got more upset or respect for him that he would walk into Buckingham Palace every week for over three years with messy hair. I think it's a bit of both. I think I'm feeling a bit of respect and frustration at the man.

Let's check out her evenings. So they would often include hosting parties or events. Never ending! Oh, and I love this fun fact. So again, according to sources, I cannot confirm to be legitimate, her purse - This is really fun - her purse was used to signal to her staff. To be fair, if you think about it, the queen was rarely spotted without her handbag, and it wasn't just to store her belongings. Her Majesty would place her bag on the table to indicate that she wanted to leave within 5 minutes. And if she put her bag on the floor, it showed that she wasn't enjoying the conversation and wanted to be rescued. Amazing. Amazing. I love that. Imagine if you knew this fact going into meeting the Queen at a party and mid-conversation. She locks eyes with you and she just puts her bag really deliberately on the floor. The shame you'd carry with you knowing that the Queen was bored of you and she wanted to be rescued. Hang on. I don't mean to assume gender stereotypes in this day and age, but what is Charles going to do? From what I remember of him, he doesn't carry a handbag wherever he goes. I wonder what item he could use. Hmm. Maybe he needs to gradually fade in a fashionable walking cane. I mean, it won't be long before he might need an actual walking stick, being that he's already 73. Jesus, 73! Most people retire at 65, nowadays. He's getting the most important job of his life at 73! That's a bit rough. I mean, I know he's been a prince all his life, but yeah, that's that's topsy turvy.

Anyway, after the queen's duties and when Queen Elizabeth wasn't hosting parties or events, she would get to put her feet up at the end of the day, with a cheeky bevvy. She'd often apparently drink a gin and Dubonnet and sometimes watch a bit of telly. According to a website that I have no idea of its legitimacy, they have apparently spied the skybox in her sitting room, and Downton Abbey was one of her favourites because she tried to spot the mistakes. X Factor was also on her list of never-missed shows, and EastEnders and Coronation Street are firm favourites with a number of the Royals. Wow. And then Dad's Army and Last of the Summer Wine also made the cut. Even though she got a bit of telly time, her bedroom light was often the last light out at the palace as she continued to read through the letters in her red boxes. Bless her, I know she had huge privileges, but she was hard working and she did this for over 70 years. My non-existent hat right now goes off to her and I say, Good luck, Charles, rather you than me. I'll share the name, but not the throne. Fill your boots. There we go. The end of the episode. Well done for getting through the entirety of it. Make sure you use all of the resources available to you in your membership. Thanks once again for supporting the show and I look forward to seeing you next time on the British English podcast.

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