If you have eyes and the internet, you’ve probably seen the videos that are currently going viral showing King Charles III completely scratching his head over a “stinky” leaky pen and dirty desk.
It provided some much-needed comic relief amid a week of sadness, but it also gave some critics the opportunity to point out that this is just the latest example of the new monarch’s pampered behavior.
But let’s rewind a little.
Charles has had a whirlwind of official duties almost since his mother, the Queen, died last Thursday at the age of 96.
The very next day, he met with members of the public and watched the tribute outside Buckingham Palace before delivering a deeply emotional address to the nation, expressing his grief at the loss of his “beloved mother” and vowing to serve the British people with “loyalty, respect and love”.
The day after, he was formally proclaimed king at St. James’s Palace and delivered another speech.
Then began his mini tour of the United Kingdom, during which he met with dignitaries and attended services in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Among all this was the Queen’s procession to Westminster Hall, two vigils of princes led by Charles, and numerous religious ceremonies.
In the midst of all this, two videos with a pen surfaced showing a visibly tense Charles losing his cool.
Earlier this week, and after extensive conversations with members of the British public, I wrote about how quickly (and unexpectedly) they accepted their new – and definitely not traditionally popular – king.
Just a few days later, it seems like they’ve taken it one step further: now they’re fiercely protective of him.
In fact, it was the same answer over and over again when this topic was discussed in London. Here is an example:
“We all get irritated when we get tired – and he must have been very tired – and he didn’t have time to grieve. He’s tired, he barely slept, everyone needs to leave him alone,” Jackie, 71, from Bedfordshire, told news.com.au.
“He is a grieving son, he just lost his mother. He needs to be given a break,” said Jack, 39, from Northampton.
Paul, 41, from Northampton, echoed the sentiment: “He’s in grief, he’s exhausted – people should give him a break.”
“I feel so sorry for him. It’s not about the pen, is it? Everything is just built and I think it’s a disappointment. He needs time to mourn, he must be so tired,” said 34-year-old Emma from Middlesborough.
“It’s frustrating because he does his best under extreme circumstances – things are going badly and he’s handling himself very well given what he’s dealing with,” said Matthew, 32, from Cornwall.
“He needs a break, he’s in mourning and hasn’t stopped for days – he’s doing great, but he seems to be struggling with his grief,” said Jodie, 42, from Colchester.
The queen, who inherited the throne at the age of 25, has effectively grown into adulthood into a monarch, endearing herself to millions of people and earning their love and devotion for life. This is the reason why hundreds of thousands of people currently endure waiting times of about one full day to be able to spend a few seconds paying their respects to her at Westminster Hall.
Charles has never found such an easy home in the hearts of the British – the years of Diana and Camilla were a particularly devastating era – but after an exemplary start to his reign in unfathomably difficult circumstances, this could be the moment he won them over.
Of course, he speaks openly about finding solace in the support of the public as people rally around the grieving son of the queen they adored.
Depending on how he handles it, he might just keep riding that wave for years to come.