Still, the king’s “soft power” has its limits, even in the Commonwealth. Britain’s former colonies are increasingly chafing at the monarch’s role as their head of state, and with the death of the much-admired queen, Jamaica and others are determined to throw off their links to the royal family.
Nor is Charles ever likely to match the popularity of his mother at home. In a YouGov poll in early 2023, the queen, who died last September, was viewed favorably by 80 percent of respondents. Charles was viewed favorably by 55 percent, putting him behind his sister, Princess Anne; William; and his daughter-in-law, Catherine.
Those numbers are well ahead of most British political leaders, and far better than they were in 1996, after Charles’ failed marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales. At that time, his public reputation crashed so badly that many Britons said they would prefer to see the crown skip a generation to William.
But Charles continues to be saddled with fallout from the palace’s bitter split with Harry and his wife, Meghan, which was stoked by Harry’s memoir and its tell-all accounts of the family’s quarreling.
“The revelations about the king’s relationship with his second son have overshadowed what the king is trying to do in the United Kingdom,” said Ed Owens, a historian who writes about relations between the monarchy and the media. “The tabloid press has been preoccupied by this story of celebrity rather than the more difficult question of how the monarchy is going to evolve.”
Some say the rift with Harry and Meghan deprived the royal family of its last, best chance to modernize its image. While William and Catherine remain popular, Ms. Mayer noted, they are edging into middle age, no longer progressive figures but parents who embody tradition and conservative values.