Prince Charles on the throne could end monarchy in Canada: new documentary

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MONTREAL - It's probably just as well Prince Charles is leaving Canada before the broadcast of a new documentary on the monarchy. He probably wouldn't like what he sees.
It predicts his unpopularity could be the single determining factor that spells the demise of the monarchy in Canada.
The film - "After Elizabeth II: Monarchy in Peril" - suggests Canadians might finally wind up cutting their ties to the throne once it's occupied by Charles.
"A new sovereign can revive a royal family or be its kiss of death," says Montreal-based filmmaker John Curtin. "So a politically meddling successor to the elderly Queen Elizabeth II could spell the end of Britain's 1,000-year monarchy."
Looking at some of the opinions about Charles recapped in the one-hour film leaves the viewer with the impression the Grim Reaper is puckering up for a smooch on the regal institution.
The film cites a string of scandals and missteps that have allegedly tarnished the Royal Family in recent years. The documentary notes that even the Legoland theme park in Britain draws more tourists than the royal castles.
Prince Charles is dismissed as an aging fuddy-duddy by some, too quirky by others and way too opinionated and meddlesome in politics. No discretion, like the Queen, who sets the gold standard.
And don't get critics started about Diana. They haven't forgotten how his marriage to the people's princess collapsed.
"Diana is really an anchor around Charles' neck," Curtin said, musing that things might be different if their union had been the fairy-tale marriage it appeared to be when they got hitched.
But one Canadian monarchist believes the portrayal of Prince Charles is a tad unfair and chalks it up to another example of how misinformed Canadians are about their government institutions.
Nathan Tidridge of the Monarchist League of Canada hasn't seen the program, which will air on CBC on Nov. 12, but has heard about it.
"My sense is that the documentary is kind of looking at the personal side of it," Tidridge said in an interview. "Like the personal character and kind of the issues with Princess Diana. The personalities behind the Crown.
"The system of government that we've had is centuries old and, I mean, to judge an institution based on personalities, I just hope that Canadians see beyond that."
Tidridge said the Crown in Canada is a fundamental institution and doing away with it would have an impact on everything from aboriginal treaties to interprovincial relations.
"I think it just highlights this lack of education," he said of Curtin's work.
And while Prince Charles may be opinionated when it comes to politics, Tidridge is confident that will stop when he takes the throne.
Curtin, whose mother's uncle was the royal obstetrician who delivered Charles, says he really didn't have any strong opinions about the monarchy before making the documentary and he would have sworn Canadians were probably 50-50 on whether ties to the institution should be severed.
But then he saw a Canada Day poll done by the Strategic Council that suggested 65 per cent of respondents wanted Canada to break its ties to the monarchy once the Queen dies.
"That's approaching consensus," he said.
And he bets Canadians will start thinking about the issue more seriously as Prince Charles gets closer to getting his face on the $20 bill.
"Since he's not someone that most people look up to or revere in the same way as they do his mother - if it's 65 per cent now, why wouldn't it be 75 per cent in 10 years?"
Dumping the monarchy is no easy feat and would require a constitutional amendment that would require the consent of all 10 provinces.
But Curtin says he can see some politician exploiting the issue someday - especially when the day arrives that printed images of Charles' face are being pumped out by ATMs.
"It's an issue that could be championed to make someone look progressive," he said.
Curtin acknowledged that Charles and Camilla have been drawing adoring fans since they've been in Canada. But he discounts that as a case of celebrity-gazing by curious onlookers.
"If you asked most Canadians what they think of Paris Hilton, they'd probably say they have no interest," he said. "However, if Paris Hilton walks by your office, most people would jump up to take a look."
(With files from Tobi Cohen)

Organizations: Legoland, Monarchist League of Canada, CBC Strategic Council

Geographic location: Canada, Britain, MONTREAL

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