When President Donald Trump gets rid of PBS funding in the federal budget, one thing I might miss is ″Masterpiece Theater″. Most of the time they air soapy dribble but once in a while they put on a gem from the BBC, such as ″King Charles III″. Airing last night, the movie is based on a play by Mike Bartlett about what may happen after Queen Elizabeth II dies. In short, its political chaos in the UK as Prince Charles takes over from ′Mummy′ and gets into a row with Parliament. Seems that they want to pass a new law restricting press freedoms from invading people′s privacy and Chucky refuses to sign the law. The matter of ′Royal Ascendency′ comes into play, resulting in a political stand-off between the Monarchy and the Elected Government.

King Charles III

Played by the recently deceased actor, Tim Pigott-Smith, Charles goes half mad after his mother dies. All of his previous foibles, his aloofness, insecurities and other shortcomings, are all magnified. He even starts seeing the ghost of his first wife, Princess Diana, lurking about Buckingham Palace. Directed by Rupert Goold, the BBC production of the video play follows suit with the live stage version, with the dialog in ′blank verse′, a.k.a. Shakespearean prose. You almost get the feeling that you are watching a modern version of ″Richard III″ or some other dark history by ′The Bard′.

I have to give this one two thumbs up! For all of the daily nonsense we watch on cable news of the goings on in Washington, when it comes to political intrigue and back stabbing, nobody does it better than the British! Perhaps that is the charm of Monarchy? The fact that you can forget about political parties as enemies, you have to worry more about your own blood relations trying to steal your power along with ′The Crown′. Coup d′etats are done just as easily with a dagger or a vial of poison as they are with an army of rebels.

One would think that after an unruly press caused the death of Diana, as well as fill pages of the tabloids with royal gossip, that Charles might favor some sensible restrictions on what the press can say and show. But, nope! Charles is a modern Liberal. He even believes in polling data, which makes he think that half of the country supports his position. Oh, how wrong he is on that score! The moment he challenges the power of Parliament, the gloves come off. Parliament tries to pass another law ending the need for Royal Ascendency, the written consent and approval by the reigning monarch for all new laws. But Charles will have none of that and orders Parliament to be dissolved!

The last English king who tried that was Charles I. His actions led to the English Civil War and his own beheading on January 30, 1649. That came after a bloody rebellion between what came known to be the Royalists and the Roundhats. The Roundhats were essentially Protestant factions, namely the Puritans and Calvinists, fighting on behalf of Parliament and led by Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell won, obviously, resulting in Charles I to be tried and convicted by Parliament of treason. Namely conspiring with Catholic Spain and Ireland against Protestant England. For about 19 years, Cromwell ruled over England, some say as a dictator, making the island nation a republic for a short time. Charles II, son of the dead king, lost his battle to remove Cromwell and retake England. However, while in exile, Charles II was invited back to rule following Cromwell′s death.

In the play and film version of ″King Charles III″, it is Prince William, spurred on by his wife, Princess Katherine, who deposes his father and restores Parliament. This followed a period of chaos with tens of thousands of protesters rioting across England, including besieging Buckingham Palace. At one point, Charles counters the protesters with the British Army, including parking a tank by the front gates with its gun pointed at the protesters. What I found most amusing about this whole plot line is that what we have here is a case of Absolute Monarchy versus Fascism. The People apparently prefer Fascism as does apparently William and Kate. Even Prince Harry sides with his brother against Daddy.

In the end, Charles abdicates ′The Throne′, and, as things settle down, William and Kate are crowned as the new King and Queen of England. Just as the Archbishop of Canterbury is about to place the crown on William′s head, Charles advances and takes the crown, holding it for a moment before placing it himself on his son′s noggin. Then, Charles runs off to sulk. LOL! ″King Charles III″ is an interesting piece of fiction from the BBC. I have to wonder if they are laying the groundwork for William to skip over his father to the throne? This is a scenario that many ′Royal Watchers′ have been proposing for years.

Understanding the political implications of such fiction is not new in England. Recently, I discussed with one of my nurses about how Shakespeare fiddled with history in his play, ″Richard III″. We see this in the books by Philippa Gregory and BBC TV mini-series, ″The White Queen″. The Starz Network recently began airing the sequel, ″The White Princess″.

In Gregory′s novels, Richard III is not the blood-thirsty, bad guy Shakespeare had him be. Richard actually was very loyal to his brother, King Edward IV, far more so than his other brother George. It was George who plots to overthrow Edward and later even hires a sorcerer to speed an early death. But there is a very simple political reason why Shakespeare paints Richard so darkly. The reigning monarch of the day was Elizabeth I, and she was quite ruthless when it came to beheading any and all critics. So Shakespeare makes Richard out to be an extreme villain, to be defeated by Elizabeth′s grandfather, Henry Tudor. In truth, the Tudors were far from saintly, but if William Shakespeare wanted to keep his head on his shoulders, he had to make them thus.

One of the reasons why I am taking the time to write about the Masterpiece Theater presentation of the BBC film, ″King Charles III″ on PBS last night is because of the power of Media over our society. I really have to wonder if the BBC is meddling with the UK monarchy? Last week, Buckingham Palace announced that Prince Phillip, husband to Queen Elizabeth II, is stepping down from his royal duties due to health reasons. The Queen just turned 90 recently as well, and also had some health issues since last Christmas. The inevitable is coming. At some point, British people are going to go through a royal change, something they have not had to deal with for over 60 years since Elizabeth II became Queen in 1953.

The impact of the live stage production of ″King Charles III″, which has been in London theaters since 2011, has actually been quite profound. Now that the BBC film version has aired in both the UK and in America, there will be a lot of talk about what will happen when Queen Elizabeth II passes from this mortal world. How will it effect our alliances? The world economy? The remaining political associations of the Commonwealth, all of whom we Americans also have alliances with? While Prince Charles is the next in line, he is not all that popular within the UK. His brother, Prince Andrew, is still kicking around, too. Then we have the next generation of William and Harry, whom the people seem much more enamored with. The foolish ′experts′ who bellyache about how our Electoral College system is archaic have no idea how lucky we are. Even in a worse case scenario, we only have to deal with a particular president for 8 years. Try dealing with a crazy king or queen for 50, 60 years! Or replacing a good one who lasted for decades. Many people will rue and curse the day when Nature takes it′s course.

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