By C.P. Belliappa
Charles, Prince of Wales, the heir to the throne of United Kingdom, has visited India several times. During his visit to India in 1980, one of the states where he was a state guest was Orissa. My father, C.M. Poonacha, was the governor of Orissa at the time. Prince Charles stayed in the Raj Bhavan and my parents interacted with him as his hosts.
For my father, who was a freedom fighter, this was quite an experience to host the future king of United Kingdom whose ancestors were his adversaries. Prince Charles was 32 years old at the time and my father found him to be an amiable, intelligent, and well-read young man. It is commendable that India and UK continue to have cordial relationship despite the dark colonial era. I recently found some of the photographs taken during this visit.
Had I known as much as I do now about Queen Victoria and her Indian goddaughter Princess Victoria Gowramma of Coorg, I would have visited Bhubaneswar for a chat with Prince Charles! An opportunity missed.
After his visit to Orissa, Prince Charles was the state guest of Maharashtra. Wherever he went girls were swooning over him! He was arguably the most eligible bachelor in the world at that point in time. I am sure many would remember the cheeky kiss the then 16-year-old Padmini Kolhapure of Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram fame, stole from the prince charming!
Prince Charles was officially engaged to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. Their tumultuous life, divorce and the subsequent horrendous accident that took Diana’s life, are familiar to the world. The person who stole his heart was Camilla Parker. There are several speculations about Charles becoming King and Camilla his Queen. One rumour is that Queen Elizabeth II will abdicate next year, soon after her 95th birthday celebrations, and make way for Charles to be coronated.
Another scenario is that the Queen will hold on to the crown and make Charles the Regent. Yet another speculation is that the Queen might bypass Charles and name his son Prince William her successor. If Queen Elizabeth II holds on to the throne till her demise, then by normal scheme of things UK will have King Charles and Queen Camilla.
People in the UK are divided regarding continuation of the monarchy with a slight bias towards retaining the royal head of state. In any case, it is more than a couple of centuries since monarchy in the UK: ‘reigns and does not rule’