The BBC report that Prince Charles is not his lease of the Home Farm at Highgrove in Gloucestershire. The ostensible reason is that it is a twenty year lease and he is seventy-one, the more practical reason is that the time is drawing nearer when he will need to take up residence at Buckingham Palace.
The accession of the Prince of Wales to the throne will bring with it the question of what name he will use as monarch, Philip, Arthur or George?
Assuming another name as monarch is long established tradition. King Edward VIII, grand uncle of Prince Charles, was always known by his family and friends as “David,” the last of his forenames, while Prince Charles’ grandfather, King George VI was known as “Bertie,” the first of his forenames being Albert.
To decide to become Philip I or Arthur I or George VII would entirely be in keeping with royal tradition, it might also avoid tension, or even confrontation between the Crown and Scotland.
If the Prince of Wales were to become King Charles, it would be unacceptable to many Scots, because Charles III would have been the title that Charles Stuart, Bonnie Prince Charlie, would have assumed if he had become king. To become Charles IV would be impossible because it would legitimize the Stuart claims to the throne and accordingly undermine the legitimacy of the current monarchy.
However, it is a question that runs deeper than the details of traditions and heredity. Some years ago, I spent ten days at a conference in Windsor Castle, another of Prince Charles’ future homes.
Attending worship at Saint George’s Chapel, I noticed one evening that the stalls in the chapel choir of the Knights of the Garter bore plaques commemorating the former occupants of the stall. Amongst the plaques was one commemorating the Duke of Cumberland, who was responsible for the bloody suppression of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s rebellion.
Mentioning the plaque to a Scot at dinner that evening, his response was blunt. “Butcher Cumberland”, he said, almost spitting out the words, as he explained to our dinner companions that “Stinking Billy” had left a trail of death and destruction across the Highlands in putting down the Jacobite rebellion in 1746.
At chapel next morning, the reaction of another Scot was quieter and more tangible. When he realized that he was sitting in a seat once occupied by the Duke of Cumberland, he simply got up and moved.
If the evocation of memories of 1746 can bring such a reaction among those whose conservative disposition is evident in their presence at a gathering in Windsor Castle, imagine what leverage Scottish nationalists would derive from Prince Charles assuming the title claimed by Bonnie Prince Charlie.