Prince Charles – the man and his achievements

Simon Weston joined the Welsh Guard while a young man. Leaving his home and family in Wales, he underwent his training and almost immediately was despatched to Berlin, West Germany. He was a well adjusted man, who loved and played rugby and was to marry when only 19 years of age. “Berlin was a wonderful and rich city,” he said, “But it could be very claustrophobic in those days, encircled entirely by Russians”. While in Berlin he did Spandau guard duty and actually saw Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy who was incarcerated in the prison after the war. Weston left Berlin in 1979 and was posted to the war torn country of Northern Ireland. There he did dangerous patrol work and it where he met Sue whom he married. He then was sent to Kenya for further training, and back to Northern Ireland.

In early April 1982 Argentinian troops successfully invaded the Falklands Islands. He was sent to the war zone and after arriving was placed aboard the vessel Sir Galahad to await disembarkation. Aboard was the Prince of Wales Company. While on the vessel, Weston stated later they were never briefed in air-raid drill. The Sir Galahad was attacked by Argentinian planes and someone shouted “Get down! Get Down!” One of the bombs a 2,000 pounder landed where Weston was taking shelter. A fireball erupted, forcing shrapnel and ricochets whizzing past his head. It was a horrific scene, one from hell. In the short of it all, the twenty three year old Simon Weston, who wanted to enjoy life to the full, was horrifically burnt. Eventually he was sent back to Great Britain where the long hard painful road of constant treatment began. I need not tell you the ordeal that this young man had to go through, which coincided with great bouts of depression, he not wanting to leave him home, but with help from his mates, family and the army he became active with the Guards Association and eventually came to Australia. From Australia in 1986 he flew back to Britain, where he received an invitation to go to New Zealand to join Operation Raleigh, a young people’s international adventure and aid organisation.

He was to write, “Later on in the venture I discovered that I was on the same plane as Colonel John Blashford-Snell, the creator of Operation Raleigh.

“I never did find out who nominated me,” he said to the Colonel.

“You didn’t?” replied the Colonel. “Well, I shouldn’t really tell you this, but I’ll give you a clue.  It is someone very closely associated with your part of the world, who has followed your progress with a lot of interest and concern.”

“My mam?” He asked.  “My gran?”

“No.  As a matter of fact it was the Prince of Wales.”

I highlight this true story to convey all the work behind the scenes that Charles, the Prince of Wales, does.  He had met Simon Weston at the London Victory Parade after the Falklands War and as the Colonel said, “followed your progress with a lot of interest and concern,” so much so he personally nominated this badly injured man and by nominating it means, he paid for his involvement.  There was no publicity about this nor did the Prince seek it nor should he. There is a verse in the Holy Bible which states, “But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “(Matt 6:3) In other words, “don’t make a big show of it”.  One always sees a number of celebrities being photographed, say in Africa with children.  Most of it is for publicity purposes.  They fly in, have a photo shoot and fly out again. They do it, arranged by their publicity agents, for the entire world to see.  Truly they have received their reward. Prince Charles does not do that;  all the good work he does, he does so, silently, behind the scenes, secretly, most of which, if not all, has not received public attention or acknowledgement.  This, however, is the way he wants it; that is how he operates.

Prince Charles, the future King of Australia gets bad press. Very little of the true work he does, the true character of the man gets through. Rather, the concerted attacks against him portray him as a man out of touch, strange and immoral. After all, he talks to trees doesn’t he? Well, I use to talk to my dog all the time, so perhaps that makes me strange too. If so, I am in good company. True there were those terrible days during the 90s for the Queen as well, where there were those scandals, the burning of the Queen’s residence, the death of Diana and one thought would all this not end? The republicans and sensationalists had a field day and the Monarchy took a beating; there is no doubt. The Queen was criticised for lacking compassion after the death of Diana, but you know – the Monarchy survived and Constitutional Monarchy is even stronger than ever before. Charles has married Camilla and of course she has come under huge personal attacks by self-righteous individuals who have nothing to be self righteous about. Even recently ex Prime Minister Paul Keating at the release of his book with sarcasms and rudeness attacked the Royal Family and our system of government, as did ex Liberal Senator Amanda Vanderstone. But who are they to moralise?,

Let’s move on to something much more positive. His father, the Duke of Edinburgh, as a serving officer in the Navy, had seen something of Australia and been attracted by its people. It was arranged in 1965 that there would be exchange of students. Prince Charles would attend Mount Timbertop School at Geelong, while an Australian boy would attend Charles’s school, Gordonstound, which turned out to be a son of a farmer. This came under criticism; if Charles was coming to Australia why not have him attend an ordinary State high school. The school was chosen by the then Prime Minister, Robert Menzies. Menzies did not want the young prince to be at school in the middle of a crowded city in Australia, where people would be gazing constantly at him. He wanted the young prince to mix happily with ordinary Australian boys. By this time he was a senior boy and thus his position was to maintain liaison between masters and junior boys. It was a Spartan school, where students came in direct confrontation with nature; they had to provide with their own welfare, in other words be self-reliant. The Prince surmounted the same hurdles as the other boys without claiming privilege. From Timbertop he visited missionary stations in Papua and New Guinea. That was his first visit to Australia.

But let’s get back to modern times. Much of course could be said of his early life. He is now a mature man, very well qualified, educated and experienced. He is intelligent and compassionate. He is a great believer, as I am, in natural therapy and the benefits of herbs. For more than 28 years, HRH has put his organic principles into practice in his ground-breaking garden at his property called Highgrove in the UK. He states that “the garden is an expression of what I hold dear – an essential harmony and connection with Nature, which is so important for the world today and for our descendants. We are planting to the future, so that those who come after us can reap the benefit of what has been planted before.” So what’s wrong with that? Is that the ravings of a mad man? He goes on to say, “The single most important factor in the success of an organic garden is the health of the soil.” Again, seems quite correct to me…”my advice to anyone who is thinking of gardening organically,” he states, “would be to make a start, be patient and take the rough with the smooth. If you encourage wildlife into your garden, you will find pests and diseases become less of an issue. Surprisingly, you will discover that you tend to have more success than failure with benefits to the environment and to your own well being.” Prince Charles has become the Patron of Plant Heritage, which conserves the diversity of our plants. He is very interested in the health of children. He is quoted as saying, “There are many imaginative campaigns designed to teach children to eat well and be healthy, such as the Food for Life Partnership led by the Soil Association, as well as groups, such as Garden Organic, which encourage children to plant seed, nurture plants and have their own produce. Local gardening groups need to encourage the same sort of thing.” The public can actually visit Highgrove, to experience what he describes as “harmony with Nature; that it warms the heart and feed the soul of those who visit and maybe for those who have never gardened, provides inspiration to show what can be done in a mere few decades.” Here, the Prince is setting an example to us all.

He has behind the Dumfries Housing Estate project in Scotland restoring a 18th century home and grounds for the benefit of the local and wider community. The historic estate will be preserved for the future, providing work for many young people who have had their lives turned around because of the opportunities presented to them.

He is a military man having spent time in the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy, commanding a mine hunter and flying aircraft. He is a great musician and watercolour artist of some talent.Lithograph copies of water colours by the prince are sought after all over the world and the rarest currently fetch up to 15 thousands pounds a piece at the London Gallery. His works are also available at his country estate Highgrove in Gloucestershire where the originals hang. Proceeds from sales of the copies, signed in pencil by the prince, have gone to his Charitable Foundation.

Of his paintings, Charles stated, “It transports me to another dimension which refreshes parts of the soul which other activities can’t reach.”

The Prince is known to attend services at several different Anglican churches near his home at Highgrove and in the year 2000 he was appointed as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. He travels each year to Mount Athos to spend time in the Orthodox monasteries, demonstrating his interest in Orthodox Christianity. We must not forget that his father, the Duke was raised Greek Orthodox, before being converted when he married the future Queen Elizabeth II.

He has demonstrated a great interest in alternative medicine, a cause of which I am personally interested. Because of this he has been a subject of controversy and criticism. On one occasion he advocated that medical practiconers should offer herbal and other alternative treatments. One pious critic said, that many of the alternatives are “downright dangerous”, not to state of course prescribed drugs can be “downright dangerous”.

While his late wife Diana received great publicity regarding her charity work, little is known of Charles’s. He has founded the Prince’s Trust, establishing fifteen charitable organisations and serves as President of all of those. An alliance of charities is called The Prince’s Charities raises over 110 millions pounds annually. He is patron of 350 other charities and organisations and carries out duties related to these throughout the Commonwealth. He draws attention to youth, the disable, the environment, the arts, medicine the elderly, heritage conservation and education. A ex private secretary described the Prince as “a dissident who works against majority political opinions.” Isn’t that the type of person who we want to become King? A man in his own right.

He has frequently criticised modern architecture, (again) of which I totally agree. Most modern architecture, in my opinion, is simply ugly. He cares in his own words, “deeply about issues such as the environment, architecture, inner-city renewal and the quality of life.” And with courage, when only a young man in 1984 attacked the British architectural community in a speech given to the Royal Institute of British Architects. He wrote a book called “A Vision of Britain” in which he criticises modern architecture. And modern architecture needs criticising and may I say, in Hobart as well – one just has to look at our waterfront. The Prince, despite attacks has continued to put forward his views, together advocating the restoration of historic buildings.

There is so much we can say on Prince Charles, the Man and His Achievements, so much. His involvement with modern architecture has been described as “an abuse of power” especially when he criticised the developers of the Chelsea Barracks, suggesting that the design was “unsuitable” with the development being done by a royal Arab family. Those in the architectural community has described his “behind the scenes lobbying” as counteracting the “open and democratic planning process” which is a lot of rubbish really. If they believed in what I just quoted they would welcome his comments. Lately the Prince has been accused of using his charities to lobby ministers over politically sensitive issues such as VAT (or our GST) to promote his beliefs on topics including social development and the environment and has called directly on the Government to change policies. But as one correspondence to the Daily Mail (UK) pointed out, “As senior patron and head of these charities this is what is EXPECTED of him, by those charities”. Well said. And interestingly enough the amount collected in the UK by the VAT is the equivalent to the payments paid to the European Union, so one could say the VAT tax does not benefit the British people at all.

It is well worth adding that during the year 2015 at the age of 66 he had 380 engagements, which included 147 abroad. His sister, Princess Royal carried out a total of 544 engagements and Prince Edward 354. How many of us could be as dedicated as that?

Prince Charles one day will no doubt become King. He will be a good King. He is aware of his responsibilities and he is a humane man willing to speak his mind when he sees it is beneficial to his people and country, rather than to self centred arrogant governments and ambitious politicians. What more could we ask of our monarch? The true success of anyone I have observed is within their family. Prince Charles has reared two wonderful sons. It has been a dreadful time for them all with the loss of their mother in terrible circumstances, surrounded by controversy which still exists today. The pressure upon the family has been enormous, a weight which the majority of us I surmise would not be able to handle. But handle it they have and I can only admire their fortitude and “guts” to see it through.

Things have settled down a great deal over the years; the popularity of the Queen is outstanding and the appreciation of the system of government provided is high, including Australia with many republicans stating that for the time being it is a lost cause. They are hopeful that when Prince Charles becomes King, it will promote the republican cause, but I doubt it. As said, he will become a good King and will pass the mantle on in time to his son, William and Kate. I have entitled this article, Prince Charles the Man and His Achievements. His greatest achievement will be to be a King in every sense of the word. That challenge for him is yet to come. In this day and age it is probably more difficult than ever before to accept the burdens of being Monarch. Time will tell us what King he will be.

I just like to name some of the Prince’s charities – some of them…The Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust; The Prince’s Drawing School; The Prince’s School of traditional Arts; the Prince’s teaching Institute; The Prince’s Regeneration Trust; The Prince’s Countryside Fund; Business in the Community; Scottish Business in the Community; and The Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership.

Her Majesty made Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, on the 7th anniversary of her marriage to Charles, a Dame of the Grand Cross of the Royal Victoria Order. This shows the Queen’s approval of the role of her daughter-in-law and is her personal gift.

Thoughts on Council Amalgamation

Council amalgamation, like many things, sounds terrific. If we had fewer Councils within Tasmania, surely this means less cost to the already over-burdened tax-payer? We have had amalgamations before and may I say, “forced” amalgamation as many in those effected districts were against it. Regardless, the powers that are, went ahead. It was some years ago that the latest round of amalgamations went through and as one who opposed them I knew firsthand the opposition which existed, such as in the Huon Valley and on Bruny Island. Now, we are going through another round; it is the sound Fabian principle which is at work; bit by bit and by stealth.

The questions we must ask ourselves are two important ones: firstly, has amalgamation proved financially beneficial to the rate-payer? The answer is NO. We are still subject to high rates, less for our rates and an annual increase in rates. Secondly, we must ask – do the rate-payers and residents have a greater say in local government because of amalgamation? The answer, (again) is NO. The further your seat of government is from you the less input you will have; ask the residents on Bruny and those within those now non-existent municipalities in the Huon. Ask ourselves; what input do the ratepayers of Tasman have in Nubeena? Limited I would suggest. If the seat of local government is, say for instance, at Sorell, the residents will have even less and little influence.

The Socialist agenda for Tasmania (and elsewhere for Australia) emanating from the United Nations is to regionalise the State. In other words, three main areas, south, north and north west. This way State Governments will be done away with extra power being centralised in Canberra and let me say quite openly Tony Abbott is an admitted centralist; so we have a problem of both major Parties being centralists. Power, increasingly over the years, has been centralised in Canberra, whereby now the Tasmanian Government is really just an administration centre.

Truly we need another Joseph ‘Jo’ Darling; that great Tasmanian politician who stood up to Canberra during the war and won!

It is true that the existence and the role of State Governments is written into the Australian Constitution, while local government is not. The reason why local government is not in the Australian Constitution is because they existed within each colony before federation. Federation was formed because of the colonies and as municipalities were a colonial, then State responsibility, there was no need (and still no need) for it to be included.

With the State Governments being mentioned, the power mongers and social manipulators have a problem. To do away with State Governments, we must have a national referendum.

Changing the Constitution in the past has always been a problem for Governments as people have an in-built fear of Government and great suspicion of its true intention. However, there has been a massive brain-washing campaign over the years with the theme that Tasmania, being a small State, is over-governed and it costs us too much.

Let’s look at some facts. In Australia we have three tiers of government i.e. Federal, State and Local. (In the USA they are four). Our fore-fathers, knowing the corruptive spirit of man and his quest for “power” (the second-oldest profession) designed our system of government to break up that ‘power’ and put checks and balances to counter-act the greedy appetite for governments to increase its hold over the people, whom it supposedly represents. So the three tiered system of government is there to divide power and responsibilities; in other words to decentralise power. By getting rid of one tier of government you will only put more power into lesser hands – and that’s the name of the game. As far as costing us more; this is really a furphy. Whole departments can be abolished saving the tax-payer hundreds of millions of dollars annually. What costs is the unnecessary funding of many pet projects, political favourites, minders, useless departments and social curriculums promoted by political considerations rather than what is in the interest of the public. Yes, we are over-governed, but not in structure. We are over-governed with the growth of governments and the many commissions, Boards, Departments and individuals, who never answer to the public nor have they ever been approved by the public. Australia is one of the most over-governed people in the Western World in that we have become so controlled by Government. The Andrew Bolt affair of late has shown us that public expression is no longer to be tolerated by the courts and government and that we must toe the line in all things. To highlight this over-bearing attitude by governments, have you noticed over the years, how we are all now being watched and reported on? We have become a “pip” society and …”you don’t even have to give your name…” so the rhetoric goes.

Council amalgamations sound nice; but beware; it is just another quest for power; let’s not be fooled by this thrust. When governments tell us that it is good for us, think the opposite. Governments exist to entrench their power and that power is at the expense of the people.

The Queens 70th Wedding Anniversary

2017 marked the 70th platinum anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia and Prince Philip. It was on November 20th 1947, before Elizabeth ascended to the throne, they were married at London’s Westminster Abbey. It is a great achievement in anyone’s estimation.  Not only has the monarch provided political stability but also has set an example for marital stability during times of great testing, tribulation and incredible changes of social attitudes.  Speaking on the occasion of their 60th anniversary in 1997, the Prince said the secret to their marriage was “tolerance and different interests”.  The formula has obviously been successful.

The Palace has announced that there will be no public events to mark the occasion, but there is no doubt there will be many private functions to recognise the anniversary.

The Queens has served her people well, even republicans admit to this. On September 9th 2015 she became the longest serving monarch in British history, breaking Queen Victoria’s 63 year old reign. It was unlikely that she would become Queen at all.  In 1936 with the unexpected abdication of her uncle King Edward VIII had the crown pass to her father, George VI thus paving the way for Elizabeth to ascend to the throne. On February 6 1952 she and Philip were in a remote part of Kenya when the news came through of the death of her father who had been ill. Queen Elizabeth II (although technically speaking Queen Elizabeth I for Scotland) was crowned Queen, June 2 1953.  A young lady had inherited enormous responsibility, yet she did not shun the prospect.

On taking her oath at the coronation she promised to “govern the people” of her various realms, not the Government of the day nor to serve the Government, but the “people”.  Her role is an independent identity.  She finished by publicly stating, “The things which I have before promised, I will perform and keep, so help me God.”  She certainly has fulfilled her oath.  How many governments, politicians, public officials have done likewise?  She serves her people.

Her and the Prince’s relationship with Tasmania came very early in 1954. Indeed, she was the first resigning monarch to embark on a tour of the crown’s expansive Dominions. First it was to Fiji in the Pacific and other British possessions, then an extensive tour of New Zealand. Aboard the royal yacht Gothic they sailed into the Tasman Sea where the Royal Australian Navy vessel, HMAS Australia took over escort duties sailing first into Sydney Harbour and elsewhere on the mainland.

Then it was Tasmania’s turn, when on February 20th the Gothic glided into Hobart. After the vessel’s berthing, the Royal couple were taken to the Town Hall to be met by the Lord Mayor of Hobart, Sir Richard Harris, the Governor of Tasmania, Sir Ronald Cross and Premier Robert Cosgrove. It was notable the first official gathering in their Australian tour was in Hobart when 22,000 school children gave a display at North Hobart Oval.

In my possession I have a beautiful glossy red-covered souvenir of the “Opening of Parliament by The Queen 1954.”  It was presented to me by the late Dr George Howatt, an American Political Scientist who was a great admirer of Constitutional Monarchy. It is an attractive presentation A4 size which gives a detailed account of the historical occasion. The Royal couple then toured Tasmania and eventually left our shores.

Since then of course there has been substantial changes throughout the world. Worse of all was the “dark decade” in which Charles and Diana divorced (1996) followed by Diana’s death (1997) and before that the burning of Windsor Castle (1992) the year when looking back was described by the Queen as her “annus horribilis”.  Yet come 2017 the Queen is greatly revered world-wide, a lady who has fulfilled when she promised to “sincerely pledge myself to your service…throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.” (Coronation Day Speech, June 2, 1953). How many politicians have said that and if they have, fulfilled their pledge?

Over the decades since 1954 there have been a number of visits by the Royal couple to Tasmania, 1963, 70, 77, 81 and 88. The last being the year 2000, but can I add just this?  This last time one of Prince Philip’s functions was to unveil a plague to our naval history at Anzac Park, Lindisfarne at which I attended.  I noted however, those loyal subjects such as I, together with my friend, the late Michael Hodgman were held back from the event by barriers.  The Prince then arrived to do the honours accompanied by officialdom who were by reputation, republicans,  I mused about the comical situation of it all….loyalists held back, while republicans were in the official party.  There is no doubt in my mind, the Prince was very aware of this….the first thing he did when alighting from the car, was to turn and wave to us….I still l have the photograph.

The Royal Couple’s devotion to each other and their belief in the institution of marriage sets an example to all.  When in Australia near 50 per cent of marriages fail and their average span is twelve years, it is important the example they have set is recognised.  When the two Fabian Socialists, Gough Whitlam and Lionel Murphy brought in the Family Law Courts, Murphy boasted that “this will destroy the family”. Now couples can be divorced after just twelve month’s separation and neither party are required to give a reason why they wish to divorce.  Made all too easy.

Reg A. Watson is a Tasmanian historian and author and Tasmanian Convener for Australians for Constitutional Monarchy.